After dropping a crucial game to the Buffalo Sabres, the Florida Panthers were back in action in Pittsburgh, looking to get back in the win column.
Off a fast break, Frank Vatrano raced down the width of the ice, driving hard to the net and burying his own rebound to give the Cats the lead first. Unfortunately, that lead wouldn’t last long as former Panther Jared McCann beat Chris Driedger short-side to level the game at one.
Juuse Riikola came close to evening the game once again for his side after his point shot sailed off the crossbar and out, keeping Florida in the lead for the time being. Just before the period expired, Aaron Ekblad sprung Aleksander Barkov on a breakaway, but Barkov just couldn’t keep his shot down, missing wide. The Panthers would take their 2-1 lead into the dressing room after a period of play.
In the second, Denis Malgin circled around Pittsburgh’s zone, creating some open room for Ekblad and others to roam into. As soon as Ekblad got free of his man, Malgin swiftly sent a cross-crease pass, leaving Ekblad alone with Tristan Jarry down on the ice. Shocking enough, Jarry denied Ekblad with his stick and blocker while down and out of position.
At the other end, Driedger had to come up big after the Penguins broke off into an odd-man rush, denying Dominik Simon from tying the game. Both Driedger and Jarry were flawless the entire second period, turning aside every chance that came their way.
Both Florida and Pittsburgh were unable to muster a single goal during the second frame, heading into the locker room with the same scoreline.
To begin the third, Vincent Trocheck came storming into the Penguins’ end, letting off a wrister which would end up striking the goal post. Florida’s domination continued throughout the rest of the third, in search of an insurance goal to close out the game.
The Cats would end up finding their two-goal cushion through Mike Hoffman – who sniped an absolute rocket past Jarry to give the Panthers the much-needed goal. He and Vatrano connected beautifully on the goal.
To add more salt to the wound, the Panthers officially nailed the final bolts in the coffin to seal victory after Evgenii Dadonov slotted in his eighteenth of the year on the empty net. The Florida Panthers would go on to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 4-1.
Overall, it was a fantastic, all-around effort by the Panthers – who played an effective and sound game for sixty minutes. The defense hardly missed a beat and avoided breakdowns/turnovers, all four forward lines contributed in meaningful ways, while Driedger was solid, turning aside just about everything in a 31-save effort.
Your Panthers are back in action on Tuesday, January. 7 @ 7 P.M. against the Arizona Coyotes to kick-off a four-game homestand.