Panthers top Stars
Trocheck has game-winner as Florida hits the road
Huberdeau’s two goals aid in shootout win.
SUNRISE — Arbitrary endpoints can tell a wide range of stories. They can pinpoint deficiencies across the grind of a six-month hockey season. They can overvalue hot streaks in the same campaign. But they can also help shape the psyche of a team.
A loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night and the Florida Panthers would have dropped seven of eight games. A win would have lifted them to victories in two of three games. Confidence entering a three-game road trip through California swiveled on Tuesday night’s result.
In a 4-3 Panthers shootout win, it ticked upward.
Vincent Trocheck scored the game-winning goal in the third of the shootout to give Florida the win.
The win was highlighted by a strong game from Jonathan Huberdeau and Florida’s once sputtering power play unit. Huberdeau scored two goals on the man-ad- vantage, marking just the second time all season the Panthers score multiple goals on the power play. Huberdeau’s goals built a 2-0 lead with less than five minutes remainround
ing in the first period.
But the second period unraveled the lead. The third reeled it back in.
Aleksander Barkov netted the game-tying goal less than three minutes into the third period, banging home a rebound of Mike Matheson’s shot from the point. The goal gave Barkov his sixth multi-point game of the season.
The Panthers managed just four shots in the second period as the Stars pelted Luongo with 18. Florida nearly had as many penalties (three) as it did shots on goal in the second period. Two Dallas breakaway opportunities forced the Panthers to take penalties.
Mark Pysyk was whistled for hooking 69 seconds into the period in covering for Mike Matheson. Matheson was called for tripping when a bouncing puck sprung the Stars. Dallas didn’t score on the ensuing penalties. But it would soon after.
Jamie Benn scored his second goal of the evening when Luongo turned the puck over behind the net. Luongo handled the puck poorly, giving it away to Stars forward Alexander Radulov, who found Benn with an open net. The goal knotted the game at 2 about halfway through the second period.
Dallas took the lead 67 seconds later when a Remi Elie shot outside the crease deflected off Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar’s stick. The puck fluttered over Luongo, deflating the BB&T Center for the second time in less than two minutes.
For Huberdeau, the last few days have been up and down.
He missed Monday’s Panthers practice when he was too sick to come into work. His two goals in the first period were his first goals in more than two weeks. And then more bad news leveled Huberdeau at the blue line.
Dallas defenseman Stephen Johns stood up Huberdeau at the blue line in the second period, knocking him to the ice first, then skating to the bench next. Huberdeau disappeared into the Panthers’ dressing room for 17 minutes before re-entering the game with about seven minutes left in the second period.
He opened the scoring on the power play at 5:13 of the first period by flicking a wrist shot past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen. Vincent Trocheck and Evgenii Dadonov picked up the assists.
Huberdeau struck again 10 minutes later. This time it was Aleksander Barkov with the nifty feed, sliding a pass in front of the crease for Huberdeau to tip in for his seventh goal of the season.
The Panthers power play entered Tuesday night in a bit of a rut. It scored on just one of its last 15 chances and just two of its last 22 opportunities. Panthers personnel said Tuesday the power play — if it kept playing the same way — would turn itself around. Dallas, in boasting the league’s third-best penalty kill, would test Florida.
“We’re getting there,” Huberdeau said before the game. “Power play is huge. We want to be good at it and we want to get better.”
Florida’s third goal came just four seconds after a Dallas penalty expired.
The Stars got on the board when Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle got caught too high in the neutral zone, opening up a 2-on-1 opportunity. Aaron Ekblad couldn’t contain both Radulov and Benn. Benn easily finished the play to bring Dallas within 2-1.
Florida’s Vincent Trocheck (21) is checked from behind by Dallas’ Tyler Seguin (91) early in Tuesday night’s game in Sunrise.
Mike Matheson (19) of the Panthers and the Stars’ Jason Dickinson (16) battle for the puck. Florida has won two out of their last three before heading on the road for a west coast swing.