Florida Panthers GameDay
Marchy & Minny: Florida Panthers 6, Minnesota Wild 2
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Mason Marchment had himself a night for the Florida Panthers.
Marchment, who tied a franchise record with six points four games ago, scored Florida’s first two goals and then got his first career NHL hat trick later on in an impressive 6-2 win over the host Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
“I got one in the AHL a couple of years ago,’’ Marchment told ESPN during the first intermission. “It would be nice to get another.”
Thanks to Minnesota coach Dean Evason’s aggressive pulling of goalie Cam Talbot, both Carter Verhaeghe and Marchment cashed in with the empty net.
Marchment’s first NHL hatty came with 5:27 left.
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The matchup was one featuring two of the top offensive teams in the league — yet it was goalie Sergei Bobrovsky who had one of the biggest nights for the Panthers.
With the win, Florida has kicked off this post-ASG road trip with wins in Carolina and Minnesota with the finale coming Sunday afternoon in Chicago.
Florida, with former Wild fan favorite Andrew Brunette behind the bench, found itself down 1-0 after Kirill Kaprizov came around the backside of the net on a power play chance and scored after taking a long pass from Jared Spurgeon at 7:07 of the period.
Bobrovsky, who had already made seven saves to that point, did not have a prayer of stopping that shot.
But he stopped plenty more after that — and ended with 24 saves.
The Panthers tied things up on a nice hustle play from Marchment as he wrapped around the net and put the puck on net.
Talbot made the save but could not secure the puck and Marchment stuck with it, pushing it through.
Two shots later, Marchment gave the Panthers the lead for good on a sweet dish from Anton Lundell at 12:29.
Florida ended up holding the Wild — ranked third in the league in scoring — without a shot on goal for the final 11 minutes of the first.
The Panthers came out flying in the second with Radko Gudas and Aaron Ekblad each ringing shots off the cage early on.
But Anthony Duclair hit nothing but net on his shot at 8:38 of the period off a strong puck play by Jonathan Huberdeau.
Huberdeau had a real chance to get that elusive third goal but couldn’t get the puck past Talbot at the doorstep. He was able to corral the puck off the cage, keep it away from a Minnesota defender and then deftly found a wide-open Duclair crashing in from the right circle.
With the way Bobrovsky had been playing, a two-goal lead seemed pretty daunting — even for a high-powered team such as Minnesota.
In the third, Marchment drew a penalty 23 seconds in and Ekblad all but salted the game away with a nice wrist shot from the left circle on the team’s 24th shot of the evening.
Huberdeau got his second assist on the power play goal, pulling him back into a tie for the NHL scoring lead.
Duclair had the primary assist on Ekblad’s goal, giving him his first multi-point game since Jan. 15 against the Blue Jackets.
Ekblad and Lundell also ended the night with two points.
Midway through the period, Duclair took a big hit at center ice from Ryan Hartman and appeared to have the air knocked out of him. It was a hit that pulled Duclair off his skates and brought his teammates to his defense.
Verhaeghe got flagged for roughing in retaliation and, subsequently, Mats Zuccarello made it 4-2 at 9:42 of the period.
Noel Acciari, back in the lineup for the first time since preseason, had a couple of scoring chances with his fourth line mates.
Minnesota then pulled Talbot with 7:12 remaining — leading to Verhaeghe’s empty-net goal with 6:42 left.
Then came a moment for Marchment on a Minnesota night he is not soon to forget.
Marchment had not scored in the two games leading into Friday — but had six goals and 12 points in the four games prior to that. That gives him nine goals and 15 points in a span of seven games.
Not too shabby.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE NIGHT
1. Mason Marchment, Florida
2. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida
3. Aaron Ekblad, Florida
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
- When: Sunday, 3 p.m.
- Where: United Center, Chicago
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- Last season: Florida won 6-2
- All-time regular season series: Chicago leads 27-15-4, 3 ties
- This season: First meeting
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