Down two goals in the third period, the host Florida Panthers rallied to defeat the Arizona Coyotes 4-2 on Saturday night at the BB&T Center.
Denis Malgin pounced on a loose puck and roofed a shot for the go-ahead goal with 3:45 left in the third period. It was his first goal in exactly one month and his 11th of the season.
Vincent Trocheck scored Florida’s first two goals, tying the score 2-2. Jamie McGinn added an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left. The four goals in one period ties a season high for Florida.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
1: Screaming works. After the first period in which the Panthers trailed 1-0, Florida coach Bob Boughner told his team they could not afford to let home points slip away.
“There was a lot of screaming and yelling after one (period),” Boughner said. “(Captain) Derek Mackenzie had the (locker) room. We sort of looked at each other and said, ‘Who is going in first, you or me?’
“Derek did a good job. He went in and said his message. Then I went in and said, ‘That simply wasn’t good enough. This is not the night we are going to let this happen.’
“We called a few guys out. … It’s been like that all year. We are honest with the guys.”
2: Line change pays off: After the slow start, Boughner moved up McGinn, a 6-1, 205-pounder, and used him interchangeably on the top two lines.
Boughner said Panthers goalies coach Rob Tallas had an urgent message about the lack of any screens in front of Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper:
“Tally was screaming from upstairs: ‘We don’t have any traffic in front of him (Kuemper)! He s a big goalie. He can see everything!’
“We made a decision to put (McGinn) on that line because we wanted a big body.”
The plan worked.
In terms of shots attempted, the Panthers outworked the Coyotes, 82-54, for the game. And in terms of shots on goal, the Panthers had a 29-4 advantage over the final 25 minutes.
3: Trocheck to the rescue: The Panthers’ 2017 All-Star finished with three points and leads the team with a career-best 30 goals.
“I never thought (growing up) I would get 10 goals in a season, let alone 30,” Trocheck said. “It’s exciting. It’s even more exciting when it happens in a game like this.”
Trocheck was a big reason why the game was exciting. The Panthers trailed 2-0 when Trocheck put the team on his back.
First, he scored on a bad-angle shot, beating Kuemper to the short side.
On the target he had to shoot at, he said: “There was a good little bit that I kind of shot at and hoped it would hit that corner.”
Less than three minutes later, Trocheck struck again, pouncing on a loose puck out in front.
“I saw the puck,” Trocheck said. “I saw an opening in (Kuemper’s) five-hole and tried to whack it.”
Boughner praised Trocheck: “I call him the engine of the team. When he’s going, we’re going.”
4: Watch the standings: The win was crucial for the Panthers, who are chasing the New Jersey Devils for the last available wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
The Panthers, who are 19-5-1 since Jan. 30, kept pace with the Devils, who beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 earlier Saturday. New Jersey leads Florida by three points, but the Panthers have two games in hand.
Florida’s next four games are on the road, starting with Monday’s matchup at the New York Islanders. The Panthers are 15-17-4 on the road this season.
New Jersey, by the way, plays its next three games at home, although one of those is against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
5: Bad start, good goalies: With starter Roberto Luongo out day-to-day due to an upper-body injury, James Reimer stopped 28 shots and earned his fourth straight win.
Reimer, once again showing Florida’s depth at goalie, allowed two goals but held the proverbial fort until the Panthers offense revved up.
“We didn’t start how we wanted – everybody saw that,” Malgin said. “The first period was not good. The second was a little better. We started to play our game. The third, we took over and we won an important game.”