“Obviously we needed to come out there and play with urgency and play with desperation,” Trocheck said. “I think we did that, especially in the third period. We had a few ups and downs, but we stuck with it throughout the whole period. Obviously we played well in overtime, had a couple chances, and then we were able to close it out in the shootout.”
After a scoreless first period, the Panthers took a 1-0 lead at 15:17 of the second when a shot deflected off Evgenii Dadonov and past Flames goaltender Mike Smith. In the third, Calgary tied things up 1-1 on a goal from Mark Jankowski at 6:51 before Mike Hoffman returned the favor and put the Panthers back on top with a gorgeous short-side snipe that made it 2-1 at 11:59.
With 2:24 left in regulation, Elias Lindholm scored to make it 2-2 and force overtime.
After neither team could find the winner in overtime, the game headed to the always-unpredictable shootout, where Aleksander Barkov and Trocheck both scored, and James Reimer stopped two of three shots, to douse the Flames and send Florida to its seventh win in the last 11 games.
“I think we’re pretty confident just because we throw out Barky,” Trocheck said of the Panthers’ shootout prowess. “We have confidence in our goalies. Barky’s going to score, and we have confidence that our goalies are going to stop it. So, yeah, we’re pretty confident in the shootout.”
Reimer, who was named the game’s first star, finished with a season-high 41 saves.
“Any time he makes a big save that stops a Grade-A chance or a great opportunity, it gives us a little bit more energy,” Trocheck said of Reimer’s performance. “It gives is that we-owe-him-one kind of mentality. He played great out there for us.”
Here are five takeaways from Thursday’s win in Sunrise…
1. SICK PLAY
Dadonov missed Wednesday’s practice due to an illness.
On Thursday night, the only thing “sick” was his work in the offensive zone.
With neither team able to break the ice in the first period, Dadonov was fighting for space in front of the net when Mark Pysyk fired a long wrist shot. The puck bounced off of Dadonov and into the net to finally get the Panthers on the board at 15:17 of the middle frame.
“It doesn’t matter who scores the first goal, but the first goal is always important,” Dadonov said. “It got the team going. It brings more energy and more emotion.”
His 20th goal of the season, the 29-year-old forward has now hit the 20-goal mark in back-to-back seasons since returning from the KHL to sign with the Panthers. Since the start of the 2017-18 campaign, he has scored a team-leading 48 goals, including 35 at even-strength.
“Keep working hard every night,” Dadonov said of the road ahead. “It doesn’t matter who we play against, just get two points.”
2. FEELING GOOD AFTER 40
The Panthers were feeling good after two periods play on Thursday night.
In addition to holding a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes of action thanks to Dadonov’s goal, Florida also had the upper hand over Calgary in most 5-on-5 categories. Despite the Flames being up 26-22 in shots on goal, the Panthers held very big leads by most other advanced statistical categories.
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Florida led Calgary in shot attempts (39-32), scoring chances (20-11) and high-danger shot attempts (9-4) at 5-on-5 play through two periods.
In all situations, the Panthers finished the game with a 14-8 advantage in high-danger chances.
“We played well in front of our own net,” Trocheck said. “We talked about that, being strong in front of our net, picking up sticks, boxing out bodies, blocking shots. We had a lot of big blocks… We limited those opportunities that we talked about — those Grade-A opportunities — to a minimum. We were able to breakout well and lead to offense quite a bit.”
3. THE MIKE HOFFMAN SPECIALTY
With the game tied 1-1, Hoffman brought the heat.
After Trocheck won a huge faceoff in the offensive zone, Hoffman took a pass from Keith Yandle and skated in towards the center of the right circle before unleashing a blistering wrist shot that blew right past Smith to put the Panthers on top 2-1 at 11:59 of the third period.
“A great goal,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “That’s the Mike Hoffman specialty, blowing it by a goalie, looking him in the eyes and blowing it by him. A huge goal for us.”
In his first season with the Panthers, Hoffman paces the club in goals (26), power-play goals (11), game-winning goals (5) and shots on goal (178). With four more goals, the 29-year-old forward will surpass his previous career-high of 29 and achieve his first 30-goal campaign.
“There’s a lot of good things to take out of tonight’s game,” Boughner said.
4. REIMER REASON
Reimer was rock solid in net for the Panthers on Thursday night.
The 30-year-old backup finished with a season-high 41 saves against the Flames, not including a pair of game-saving stops on Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk in the shootout. Of Reimer’s 41 stops, five came on the penalty kill, where Florida finished a perfect 4-for-4.
“He was our best killer out there,” Trocheck said of Reimer. “Special teams were huge.”
Reimer’s biggest save came on the kill near the midway point of the third period, when he fell to his stomach before kicking out his right leg to come up with a huge pad save on Sean Monahan.
“I was kind of in a tough spot,” Reimer said of the play. “I’d slid across and was off-balance. I saw [the puck] popped out to him. I just tried to kick my leg out and take away as much of the net as possible. Thankfully I managed to get in the way. It’s fun when you make those saves.”
With the win, Reimer improved to 6-3-2 over his last 10 decisions.
“He came out and he played with a purpose tonight,” Boughner said. “I thought he was real good.”
5. PAYING TRIBUTE
Roberto Luongo didn’t play on Thursday night, but he still had quite an impact.
On the one-year anniversary of the shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that claimed the lives of 17 students and teachers, Luongo honored the memory of those victims by unveiling an MSD-themed mask that featured the school’s logo and 17 candles.
The Panthers also observed a moment of silence prior to dropping the puck against the Flames.
“Obviously it’s going to be in the back of our minds,” Trocheck said. “Those guys are in our hearts always. On the one-year anniversary, to get a win is nice. To have that moment of silence and to get some of those guys in the stands is touching. We’re glad to have them.”
Florida plans to hold further MSD tributes before its game against Montreal on Sunday.
If you’d like to show your support, fans can make a $5 donation to memorial funds and organizations existing in honor of students and teachers who lost their lives in the tragic shooting by texting “Give 5” to the number 74747 during that game against the Canadiens.