Florida Panthers overpower the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning 6-5

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Evgeni Dadonov
SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Evgeni Dadonov /

Following the upstart Florida Panthers’ previous victory against the powerhouse Washington Capitals, the Cats desired to continue their highly unanticipated playoff-push, opposing the defending champions Pittsburgh Penguins in Sunrise.

With Roberto Luongo starting against the clearly inferior Tristan Jarry (goalie advantage for FLA), could Florida possibly overcome the overly exhausted Pens squad?

The Panthers pounced quickly, striking first-blood with a magnificent goal from superstar centerman Vincent Trocheck. Lightning-fast forwards Denis Malgin and Vincent Trocheck collectively outraced numerous Penguins (two-on-one break for Florida), en route to Trocheck finishing beautifully from Malgin’s brilliant feed.

Trocheck, the criminally underrated All-Star, established a career-high regarding point totals with 55 points (24 goals and 31 assists in 59 games played). However, Florida’s one-goal lead was short-lived, as speedster Carl Hagelin evened the score line at one apiece.

With time quickly winding down, Russian sensation Evgeni Dadonov simply stunned Pittsburgh, scoring a remarkable goal on a sensational individual effort. Dadonov retrieved the puck from PIT’s neutral zone, and glided horizontally past the slow-footed Brian Dumoulin, eventually sniping the puck behind Jarry’s cage:

Florida carried the momentum, and regained their one-goal lead, heading directly into their dressing room with uttermost confidence (2-1 Florida after one).

Florida’s momentum continued into the 2nd frame, with heavily scrutinized winger Jamie McGinn shockingly potting home a goal, extending Florida’s lead to two. Jamie received an absolutely tremendous no-look assist from talented forward Jared McCann, and magnificently redirected the puck behind Jarry’s yawning goal. Florida continually applied offensive zone pressure throughout the game, and their tireless effort paid dividends, once again.

Derek MacKenzie, widely viewed as Florida’s weakest scoring option, truly surprised the entire stadium by unexpectedly scoring a spectacular rebound goal, following the initial wrist shot taken by Colton Sceviour.

D-Mac pounced instantly on a juicy rebound opportunity, capitalizing with a wide open net practically screaming at MacKenzie:

Mac’s unsuspected goal resulted in Jarry becoming pulled, ending an incredibly abysmal outing for the backup net minder. Two-time champion Matt Murray (played the previous day) entered as a substitution for the laboring Jarry, hoping to revitalize the deflated Pens.

Eventually, Pittsburgh began chipping away, with dynamic superstar Evgeni Malkin scoring a momentum-shifting goal for his side, cutting the three-goal deficit down to two (4-2 Florida).

Shortly afterwards, Swedish forward Patric Hornqvist scored a highly controversial goal, with the officials initially ruling the play a goal. However, following video review, the off-ice officials conclusively deemed the play as no-goal, with Hornqvist clearly pushing Luongo’s pad into the goal. With the goal disallowed, Florida’s lead was preserved at two goals.

The 2nd period concluded, with your Florida Panthers holding a decisive two-goal lead against the offensively potent Pittsburgh Penguins. The 3rd frame began with PIT slashing FLA’s lead to one, as Evgeni Malkin buried his 2nd of the night top-corner:

Although, Evgeni Dadonov recovered Florida’s two-goal lead, sniping home a deadly wrister past Murray’s net, courtesy of Sasha Barkov’s sensational, unreal passing ability.

Conserving a two-goal lead, the Panthers received 3 power play opportunities, including a five-on-three for 1:13 minutes, following Dadonov’s 2nd goal of the game. However, Florida failed to further extend their two-goal lead, wasting all 3 PP chances rather quickly.

Following a vicious, intent-to-injure check on budding star d-man Mike Matheson, Nick Bjugstad responded vehemently by engaging in a heavyweight fist-to-fist combat with Jamie Oleksiak. Mike Matheson was injured temporarily, but eventually returned, providing Florida with necessary D-help.

Furthermore, Bjugstad’s retaliation to Matheson’s brief injury resulted in an additional penalty – 2 minutes for instigating the fight, while no penalty was handed to Oleksiak for blatantly boarding a defenseless Matheson along the boards.

The Penguins received their 1st power play (ranked #1 league wide) and quickly capitalized approximately 11 seconds into their power play; Patric Hornqvist stuffed home a rebound behind Lu’s cage, cutting their deficit down to one:

Less than a minute later, Pittsburgh suddenly tied the high-scoring affair, evening the score at five apiece.

With Florida mired in utter desperation (blew a three-goal lead and several two-goal leads), rookie Head Coach Bob Boughner ultimately reunited Jonathan Huberdeau alongside budding stars Aleksander Barkov and Evgeni Dadonov on Florida’s first line.

This brilliant decision by Boughner essentially saved the Cats, as Evgeni Dadonov recorded goal #3 on the night, giving Dadonov his first career hat-trick (capped off with a stellar celebration) and, more importantly, a one-goal lead with under two minutes remaining:

The Pens attempted to rally by pulling their net minder for an extra attacker, but Roberto Luongo slammed the door shut and sealed Florida’s much-needed victory. The Panthers improved to 18-0-0 when leading after 2 periods.

Additionally, the resurgent Cats have claimed victory in 9 of their past 12 games, inching closer to a wildcard spot (remain 5 points back with three games in hand on CBJ).

With statement victories against Metropolitan leaders PIT and WSH, Florida has emerged/transcended into a playoff contender with 23 games remaining. Expect Florida to potentially acquire an exceptional player during the trade deadline period. Your Florida Panthers face-off against the streaking Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, February 27th @7:30pm in Sunrise!