Florida Panthers Race Ahead of Avalanche in 3rd, Win 4-1


Oct 27, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Reto Berra (20) gives up a goal to Florida Panthers right wing Reilly Smith (left) in the third period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers took care of business Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, beating them 4-1 at home.  Vincent Trocheck was the big star in the game, netting two shooter’s goals on the man advantage.  But big games from Roberto Luongo, Brian Campbell, Jussi Jokinen, and Reilly Smith helped pummel the Avalanche at the BB&T Center.  Three third period goals kept the game easily within arm’s reach.

Now, the Panthers are sitting on a pretty 5-3-1 record and are on pace for a 100-point season.  But with big home games coming up this weekend against the Bruins and Capitals, the Panthers need to stay sharp and keep the good times rolling.

Let’s look at last night’s win in more detail:


Special teams domination.  Clearly the big story of the game: 3/3 on the power play, 5/5 on the penalty kill (including a Brian Campbell short-handed goal and a killed-off 5-on-3).  The Avalanche just didn’t seem that dangerous on any of their man-advantages, as Luongo was able to see and stop any chances that weren’t already stifled by the Panthers defense.  On the opposite side of the ice, the Panthers buried every opportunity they created.  Excellent passing from players like Jussi Jokinen and Dmitry Kulikov set up great chances for Reilly Smith and Vincent Trocheck to bury, respectively.  The power play was able to move Reto Berra laterally, and the defense in front of him was unable to help.

Vincent Trocheck, American Sniper.  Check out this first goal:

I don’t think anybody on the team, except for Jaromir Jagr, can just skate into the zone and wrist one through the goalie.  Trocheck made it look easy.  He saw that Berra was off his angle, and Trocheck shot it where the goalie wasn’t.  It’s just that easy sometimes.

His second goal was also a thing to behold.  Kulikov gave him a great saucer pass across the zone and Trocheck one-timed it right past Berra before he could make it to the other post.  Trocheck might not have the biggest shot on the Panthers, but he’s not afraid to pull the trigger.  If he hesitates on either goal, Trocheck doesn’t score.

Secondary options making a difference.  With the Panthers top line of Huberdeau/Barkov/Jagr completely disintegrated, Gerard Gallant needed production from the rest of the line-up.  So Trocheck, Smith, and Campbell netted their own goals.  Scoring depth is huge, and the Panthers might have it.


Tweaked Jagr.  Jagr played only 2:30 in the first period, went into the locker room, and didn’t come back to the bench.  Nobody’s sure where or when the injury took place, but the word is that Jagr’s groin or hamstring was slightly strained.  Luckily, the Panthers don’t expect him to miss much time, and the next Panthers game isn’t until Friday.  Needless to say, the Panthers will need one of their best players against the Bruins and Capitals.

5-on-5 wasn’t great.  This might be nitpicking since the special teams were so good, but the Panthers didn’t create much at even strength.  They had 19 shots in 47:37 of 5-on-5 time, but they couldn’t seem to trouble Berra too much unless the there as an odd number of people on the ice.  The Panthers have been a great 5-on-5 team all year (highest GF% in the entire NHL, in fact) but they didn’t have the same oomph as they did in previous games.

No shutout, alas.  With only 57 seconds left to play, Gabriel Landeskog picked up a juicy Luongo rebound and lifted it over Luongo’s left pad.  It was a downer that Luongo couldn’t notch his first shutout of the season, because his performance certainly merited one.  Next time though, maybe Erik Gudbranson won’t turn the puck over five seconds before the goal is scored.

Next: Fourth Line Integral to Panthers Playoff Chances

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