Friday night the Florida Panthers closed out their extremely long homestand with a convincing win over the Dallas Stars, who were coming off an overtime win against Tampa the night before. It wasn’t so much that they beat Dallas or how they beat them, but who led the charge.
If you would have placed a Vegas bet that Noel Acciari would get his second consecutive hat trick you would have been a winner. If you would have placed another bet that he would have scored all three goals in the second period, you’d have won again. But….. if you would have bet that this goal of the period came on a shootout, you’d have hit the trifecta!
But that’s exactly what happened, and it happened in just under 4 minutes of the middle period, and the BB&T Center was rocking!
Acciari a prototypical 4th line player has shown recently that he’s got a nose for the net, a little magic touch on his stick, and that the confidence that coach Joel Quenneville has shown in him by moving up to the top six was not a mistake. Q actually looks like a genius and Acciari looks like the second coming of Al Secord (a power forward who could score back in the 80’s). Acciari now has 11 goals on the season, and he has been the main reason that he Panthers have seemingly righted the ship with two straight wins.
Here’s a couple introspective thoughts from the winger:
As a line we’re playing well together…..playing with (Huberdeau and Trocheck) is a lot of fun. You just have to get open and they find you. I just put pucks on net and good things happen.
When asked what he was thinking just before taking the penalty shot, he said with a smile:
Just don’t trip.
The Panthers played a mostly complete game again, with an exception of a few minutes in the third period when it appeared that they had taken their foot off the gas a little, as Dallas made the 7-2 contest close with 2 third period goals by Tyler Seguin (his second of the game) and Jamie Benn. But the Panthers behind another stellar game from goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky would not let the lead slip through their hands.
Bob stopped 27 of 31 shots, and quite a few of them were quality chances, especially when the defence became a little sloppy in their end. Bob has now started 7 games in a row, and is looking more like his Vezina trophy self after a rather pedestrian October and mid November.
Joel Quenneville was extremely complimentary after the game when talking about his prized netminder,
He was great, he was great. He was really good. Seven great games in a row, he’s been very consistent, everything you’d want.
Not to be forgotten in all this was the performance of Jonathan Huberdeau who had a goal and three assists for his second consecutive four point night. The puck is following Huberdeau really well right now, and the best part of his game which is his ability to pass, is that on the passes he’s making, many of the shots are being buried.
Vincent Trocheck added a goal and two assists, and maybe he’s found a good combination now with Hubby and Acciari as his linemates. Everyone knows that for the Panthers to have success in this league, Vincent Trocheck must be contributing offensively.
The win moves the Panthers into fourth place in the Atlantic Division as they now trail Montreal by one point, and are 4 points behind Philadelphia for the second Wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
It doesn’t get any easier as tonight the Panthers will go on the road for the first time in weeks to face the always challenging Carolina Hurricanes. No word yet on who get’s the start in net, but it would not surprise me to see Bob make his 8th consecutive start. It’s another must win game if the Panthers want to keep pace in the division and conference, and there can be no let down. As we have talked many times, both here and our our podcast (LockedOnPanthers), Carolina plays a fast, physical, and tight forechecking game. The Panthers will need to match the challenge.
Joe Pavelski for Dallas played in his 1,000th game last night. Very nice of the Florida Panthers organEYEzation to recognize that during the game.
The last player to have hat tricks for the Panthers on consecutive nights was Pavel Bure in February 2001.
A shout out to a couple of good friends that I’ve met along the way while doing this. Toot a photo last night with German reporter Dirk Sing, Finnish reporter Kimmo Tanhuanpaa, and Kim Smith who provides many of our photos.
Dirk head back to Germany this weekend, and I just want to say, what a pleasure it is hanging out with your during the games, talking hockey and enjoying the atmosphere. Now me and Kim need to make sure Kimmo doesn’t eat all the food! All kidding aside, three wonderful people. Until next time Dirk!
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