If there was any question regarding the chemistry of the Florida Panthers second line, there shouldn’t be after Saturday night.
The Panthers and Flyers were tied at 3 in the third period when defenseman Jakub Kindl found Reilly Smith at the top of the Philadelphia zone.
Smith and Jussi Jokinen weaved through the defense alternating passes — a quick little game of tic-tac-toe — with Smith jamming the puck past goalie Steve Mason.
“We’re just shooting a lot of pucks, every now and then they find their way in,” Smith said afterward. “There’s no real secret to it. I think we’re just doing a good job getting pucks in the net, getting bodies there.”
It was yet another display of on-ice creativity from the trio of Jokinen, Smith and Vincent Trocheck have been showing since being put together in December when Trocheck was moved up when Nick Bjugstad was out with migraines.
“I love playing with those two,” Trocheck said. “I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else. They make it easy on me. We have chemistry and that makes life easy when that trust is there. We have confidence we can do more.”
Florida had been looking for another consistent scoring line behind its top trio of Jaromir Jagr, Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.
Boy, did they ever find one.
“The chemistry has been good with them all year,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said. “We had some injuries, had to switch up some lines. When we got those guys together, they really played good. When you see that, it’s tough to break them up.’’
Once Trocheck came on board in December, the three developed instant chemistry and in the 45 games since the three were put together, they have rarely played apart.
In those games, Smith — who came to Florida in a July trade with Boston — has become a 20-goal scorer, setting a career-high when he scored his 21st goal March 1 in Winnipeg.
Smith had two in Saturday’s 5-4 shootout win, giving him 23.
Trocheck hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in the third period of Thursday’s 6-2 win over Ottawa.
“I think this whole thing has just come together naturally,” Trocheck said. “Jokinen and I played a lot together last year, and this year we’ve played together with Smith. Whenever you play together that long with two guys, all those games and different situations, you learn what their tendencies are. You kind of know where they’re going to be; you build up a lot of trust in each other.”
Jokinen, meanwhile, has at least a point in his past 10 games. His assist on Smith’s second goal Saturday gives him 12 points in those 10 games. Jokinen’s 37 assists lead the team, and his 50 points are second to Jagr.
“There are certain things that Jokinen and Trocheck do that make things click,’’ Smith said. “Jokinen starts a lot of the plays, makes a lot of smart decisions with the puck. I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he does. Trocheck carries the puck up the ice, logs a lot of time with the puck. I just try to fill in where I can. Those two guys create a lot of opportunity, a lot of chances. We read off each other well.’’
▪ The Flyers’ Shayne Gostisbehere, the first South Florida born-and-raised NHL player, tied Saturday’s score with less than two minutes remaining.
It was Gostisbehere’s 15th goal of the season, with all of his goals either tying the score of giving the Flyers a lead.
The Flyers selected Gostisbehere in the third round with the 78th overall pick of the 2012 draft held in Pittsburgh with a selection it had acquired from the Panthers in 2011 for winger Kris Versteeg.
Even if Florida wanted to take Gostisbehere in the second round, it didn’t have a pick that year as it had also gone to Philadelphia (and later to Tampa Bay) in the Versteeg deal.
“We knew all about him,” Bill Torrey said with a grin. “He’s a real good player, isn’t he?”
▪ Rookie Kyle Rau was back in the lineup Saturday after being scratched Thursday against Ottawa. On Sunday, Rau was sent back to Florida’s AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine.
Teddy Purcell, out the past three games with a slight groin strain, traveled with the Panthers to New York and is expected to be back either Monday against the Islanders or Tuesday in Montreal.
Monday: Panthers at Islanders
When/where: 7 p.m.; Barclays Center, Brooklyn.
TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WMEN 640.
Series: Florida leads 43-35-8.
Scouting report: In their first game in Brooklyn back in December, Roberto Luongo stopped 19 shots in the first period with the Panthers waking up in the second and rolling to a 5-1 win. Florida is 2-0 against the Islanders this season.