Sweet relief! Panthers snap skid with 5-1 win over Canucks

Bennett brace, 32 saves from Knight help Cats to two points

The Florida Panthers erupted for three goals in a 59-second span late in the first period and Spencer Knight finished with 32 saves in a 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Florida opened the scoring with Sam Bennett and Carter Verhaeghe applying heavy pressure down low, forcing Luke Schenn turn the puck over to Josh Mahura. Mahura found Matthew Tkachuk in the slot and he solved Thatcher Demko on the backhand with 1:46 left in the frame for his eleventh of the season.

Gustav Forsling added on thirty-five seconds later to make 2-0, Cats. After taking a partially broken-up drop pass from Eetu Luostarinen and getting denied by Demko, Sam Reinhart chased down the rebound after J.T. Miller first got a stick on it and fed back to Forsling, who pumped once before letting go of a shot from the left circle that missed legs and found twine.

Ryan Lomberg would cash in on the third rebound as the Panthers fourth line finished off a successful 3-on-2 rush at the 19:13 mark. Eric Staal sent a return pass to an open Patric Hornqvist on the right side and his shot was kicked out by Demko’s right pad. Staal and Hornqvist both took a crack at converting the loose puck, but it was Lomberg who finally got it over the line.

Spencer Martin replaced Demko, who was injured on the sequence that led to Lomberg’s goal, and kept things clean until Bennett got his first of the night 11:38 into the second. After a give-and-give it back between Tkachuk and Brandon Montour, Florida’s scoring leader crossed to an open Verhaeghe in the lower right circle, and he quickly sent it back the other direction to Bennett, who easily finished with Martin caught out of position.

Dakota Joshua countered 48 seconds later to get the Canucks on the board. Sheldon Dries won a defensive zone draw and Ethan Bear punched the puck up the boards to spring Joshua and Brock Boeser on a 2-on-1 break. As Joshua was moving in on goal, he fell to the ice while trying to cross to Boeser and the puck ended up glancing off Forsling and finding its way through Knight’s legs.

Bennett got the only goal of the third at 11:11 and Knight stopped all 17 shots, including a beautiful save on Bo Horvat, in the final period as the Cats won going away. Tkachuk picked up a turnover that bounced off the boards and then fed Bennett and he fired it home while getting a stick to the face.

A new franchise record for the fastest three goals in club history set up the Cats up nicely for success and they closed it out to post their first victory of this five-game road trip after blowing a late lead in Edmonton and getting embarrassed in Calgary. Tkachuk, Bennett and Verhaeghe combined for six points and cumulative plus-seven rating. The quality goaltending of Knight, who is now 7-3-3 with a .919 save percentage, was much-needed after a terrible outing by Sergei Bobrovsky on Tuesday. Knight picked up his 30th career win in his 49th game, the fewest to 30 wins in Panthers history. Next stop, Seattle, where the Cats will take on the red-hot Kraken in their second-ever visit to Climate Pledge Arena.

Orcas & Minnows

  • The Panthers torrid run at the end of the first period was the fastest three goals in the NHL this season. The previous franchise record was set when they scored three times in 1:02 on November 18, 2009, in a 6-2 win at the Buffalo Sabres.
  • Congratulations to Patric Hornqvist, who played in his 900th NHL regular season game and collected an assist while matching Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaeghe and Quinn Hughes with a game-high four shots.
  • Matthew Tkachuk’s three point performance has him tied for sixth in the NHL in scoring with 32 points. Tkachuk has 11 multipoint games in his first 22 tilts with the Cats.
  • Thatcher Demko left the game with 15 saves on 18 shots. Spencer Martin came on and made 12 saves in relief for the Canucks, who lost their second in a row after winning five of their previous six.
  • It took 17 games, but Eric Staal finally picked up his first point with Florida. Staal also had two shots on goal and a block in the win.
  • Streaks: Sam Reinhart extended his point streak to five games (2G/7A), but Aaron Ekblad (five-games), Anton Lundell (four games) and J.T. Miller (nine games) had their streaks come to an end.
  • For more on Florida’s much-needed win over Vancouver visit Nucks Misconduct./