The third time turned out to be the charm to quash the Florida Panthers’ shootout woes.
And it helped them pick up a valuable two points on the road Saturday while showing some gusto in the process.
Vincent Trocheck scored the lone tally in the shootout to lift the Panthers to a 3-2 road win over the Nashville Predators.
The win came on a night when team captain and top-line center Aleksander Barkov left with an upper-body early in the first period and the Panthers came in down a forward to start with after carrying seven defensemen into the contest. They had to resort to makeshift lineups throughout the game.
Noel Acciari, usually Florida’s fourth-line center, took over Barkov’s spot on the top line between Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov.
Trocheck led Panthers forwards with 23:06 of ice time.
Mark Pysyk, the team’s seventh defenseman who has played on the forward lines each of the past two games, spent 14:07 on ice Saturday.
“I think we showed that we have a little bit of a deeper team than we’ve had in the past,” Trocheck told Fox Sports Florida. “Guys stepped up in situations that they’re not used to playing in. We played a great defensive game for the most part.”
The win gives the Panthers (3-2-3) three points in the past two games — and seven of a possible 10 points in their past five — and marked their first shootout victory after falling short in their first two attempts against the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders.
Denis Malgin and Brett Connolly scored goals in the second period for the Panthers. Rookie goaltender Sam Montembeault stopped 25 of 27 shots — including four in overtime — and went a perfect 3 for 3 in the shootout against a Predators team that came into Saturday leading the NHL with an average of 4.29 goals per game.
“We battled all game long,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville told reporters postgame. “You lose Barky early in the game and we have extra defenseman playing as a forward, so we’re down in numbers in that area. But I thought the guys worked hard and played smart.”
The Panthers classified Barkov, who has a team-high six assists, as having an upper body injury, but Quenneville had no further update on Barkov’s status after the game.
The Panthers on Sunday loaned center Henrik Borgstrom to their American Hockey League affiliate Springfield Thunderbirds and signed veteran forward Brian Boyle.
Borgstrom, the Panthers’ first-round pick in 2016, was scratched from the lineup four of the past five games after opening the year as the third-line center. He did not record a goal or assist and tallied just three shots in 49:32 of ice time over the four games he did play.
Boyle, 34, has 12 years and 766 games of NHL experience, recording 124 goals and 92 assists.
He has been part of a postseason roster each of the past nine seasons, including reaching the Stanley Cup Finals with the New York Rangers in 2014 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015.
Boyle scored 18 goals and tallied six assists last season in 73 combined games with the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators.
The road ahead
The Panthers host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday — one of just three home contests over the next 10 matchups.