The most underrated line in hockey did it again on Tuesday night.
Florida’s second line might be overshadowed by its more publicized teammates, but the points have been pouring in lately.
Centered by Vincent Trocheck with Reilly Smith and Jussi Jokinen on the wings, Florida’s second forward line has been putting up big numbers.
In Tuesday night’s 7-4 victory over the host Sabres, the trio put up three goals and five assists.
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Going into Friday’s game against St. Louis, Jokinen is tied with Jaromir Jagr for the team lead with 38 points; Trocheck is fourth with 35 points and Smith leads the team with 18 goals.
Over their past eight games, the trio has been spectacular.
Jokinen leads the way with three goals and nine assists for 12 points; and Smith (six goals) and Trocheck (five) have amassed 11 points during that span.
“I think we’re contributing because all of us can score goals,” said Jokinen, who has 11 goals this season for the Panthers, who now have eight players with 10-plus goals.
“We all can pass and we’re all up on the forecheck, making plays. We have great chemistry going right now. It has been fun.”
This particular trio came together out of necessity, with Trocheck moving up to the second line when Nick Bjugstad was out with migraines in December.
“It’s a treat playing with Jokinen,” said Smith, who came to the Panthers over the summer from Boston in exchange for Jimmy Hayes.
“He makes life easy for me and Trocheck. It seems like every game he’s coming to play, making big plays. Hopefully, we keep having this kind of success.”
Florida’s top line of Jagr, Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau might be more recognizable since they’ve been together since last season and, well, include the ageless Jagr.
But the Panthers wouldn’t be in their current lofty spot if it wasn’t for the vast contributions from their “other guys.”
“Three real solid players right there,” coach Gerard Gallant said.
“Jokinen is one of those guys who plays the game right and does it every night.”
▪ Alex Petrovic and Buffalo winger Evander Kane were the first players to fight three times in the same game since Bob Probert and Jody Shelley went at it during a Chicago-Columbus game in 2002.
Although Petrovic appeared to lose all three bouts with Kane, who has been trained in boxing, he definitely got the respect of his teammates for not backing down.
“I thought he did great; he fought a tough guy,” said Shawn Thornton, who does most of the fighting for the Panthers.
“It takes a lot of guts to do what he did, and I always knew he had it in him. He did a great job for us, and [Kane] is one of their better players and he kept him off the ice for 20 minutes. He played a great game as well as the pugilistic stuff.”
Said Petrovic: “The fans loved it and, for me, well, I’m not going to back down from anyone.”
▪ Florida’s seven goals scored Tuesday matched a season high set in the opening night 7-1 win over the visiting Flyers.
The Panthers have scored six goals or more four times — and did it twice in the past week, as they beat visiting Detroit 6-3 last Thursday.
▪ With Barkov getting sent back to South Florida after being knocked out of Monday night’s loss in Detroit, the Panthers recalled Garrett Wilson from their AHL team in Portland, Maine.
Wilson was in the lineup Tuesday on the fourth line with Derek MacKenzie and Thornton.
To make room for Wilson, Erik Gudbranson was placed on injured reserve.
Gudbranson is eligible to return on Friday against St. Louis.