Vincent Trocheck got more attention from a goal he didn’t score Tuesday than the one he did.
Trocheck gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead in an eventual 4-3 win over Calgary, yet that was overshadowed by a premature goal celebration that almost came back to bite the Panthers.
With 6:25 left in the game, Trocheck backhanded a shot through the legs of Calgary goalie Karri Ramo.
Trocheck lifted his stick high in the air with his right arm as he celebrated with the crowd, only the puck careened off the post and back into play.
Never miss a local story.
By the time Trocheck realized what happened, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau was rushing up the ice, his breakaway thwarted by an Erik Gudbranson stick poke.
Trocheck got back in the play, with goalie Roberto Luongo making a terrific glove save on Kris Russell’s slap shot to help save Florida’s lead and prevent a Calgary comeback.
Although Nick Bjugstad said the Panthers couldn’t give Trocheck too much grief at the time, they have definitely joked about it since.
“They haven’t given it to me too bad, but I’ve heard a little,’’ Trocheck said.
“I’ve given it to myself after that. Not much you can do. I thought it was in the net, the light was on. Little did I know by the time I turned around the puck was at the red line. I just busted my butt to get back. They had a couple good chances right there.”
Trocheck figured he scored based on Ramo’s reaction (he sprawled on the ice and cursed very loudly) as well as the goal light going off and the reaction from fans behind the net.
By the time he realized he was the only one not back in the Florida end of the ice, it was almost too late.
Trocheck got going as fast as he could and desperately got back on defense, diving to try and block Russell’s shot.
“He likes to celebrate, doesn’t he?’’ coach Gerard Gallant said with a smile.
“It would have been on every highlight if they would have scored, that’s for sure. He thought it was in, what do you do? It’s one of those funny situations but fortunately Louie made the glove save.”
Added Luongo: “Thank God it didn’t end up in the back of our net. That would have been a pretty tough way to get scored on.”
Trocheck’s play this season has been getting plenty of attention around the Panthers.
Now a full-time NHL player, Trocheck has solidified his spot on the roster and after his goal Tuesday, briefly led the Panthers in scoring with 11 points.
Jaromir Jagr, Florida’s leading scorer since the fourth game of the season, retook his spot with a goal and assist on Tuesday.
“Playing a full season last year, getting 20 games before that, means I’m inching my way forward and gives me more confidence,” Trocheck said.
▪ Trocheck has been centering Florida’s second line with Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen but he could be going back on the wing soon.
Gallant said center Sasha Barkov is expected to return to practice Thursday after missing the past three weeks with a broken bone in his hand.
Barkov could return to center Florida’s top line of Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau in the coming week or so.
“He’s real good,” Gallant said. “Not to get too far ahead, but everything is on schedule. They said 3-4 weeks and it will be three weeks [Thursday]. It will be day-to-day after that. I can’t say he’ll play this weekend or next weekend, but things are looking good. It will be nice to have him out there.”
Thursday: Sabres at Panthers
When/where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.
TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM (560 AM), WMEN (640 AM) , WNMA (1210 AM).
Series: Buffalo leads 45-36-4.
Scouting report: Roberto Luongo seems to love playing Buffalo. Luongo, who beat the Sabres here 3-2 last month, has won eight of nine against the Sabres and seven in a row. Buffalo has just seven goals in the past five games against Luongo as he has shut out the Sabres four times since 2013.