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Florida Panthers, Tkachuk Not Worried About the Power Play

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Brandon Montour, Sam Reinhart, Matthew Tkachuk and Oliver Ekman-Larsson celebrate after Carter Verhaeghe scored a power play goal against Edmonton on Nov. 20 in Sunrise. // Photo by Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers have one of the worst power plays in the league — but they say they are not worried about it.

Florida’s power play currently sits in 24th in the NHL, scoring at a rate of 17.5 percent through its first 24 games.

But the Panthers went into Tuesday holding the second seed in the Atlantic Division with a 14-8-2 record.

“It doesn’t have to be the best part of your game,” coach Paul Maurice said.

“As a matter of fact, you’d prefer that your power play isn’t driving wins because there are other hard things you have got to do to be a good hockey team.’’

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Maurice has not been concerned with what he has seen from the power play, either.

That said, it was a major focus in Tuesday’s practice.

Per Natural StatTrick, the Panthers have the most high-danger scoring chances (70) and the fourth-most scoring chances (149) on the power play in the league.

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The problem?

They have not finished.

Aside from Sam Reinhart, who has seven of Florida’s 14 power play goals, the team’s playmakers have not converted their chances.

Sasha Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk do not have a power play goal over a quarter of the way through the season.

“Some of these players, when you put the five to seven or eight guys who are paid to score and they go on the power play, they feel that pressure adn they want to produce,” Maurice said.

”When we get to a point where you’re not, there’s tension that comes into it and I think that’s where we’re at.”

That tension seems to have built up for Tkachuk especially.

The 40-goal scorer has just four goals through 24 games, and while his focus has been on the improvements he has made to his defensive game and his team-leading 15 assists, it is still a concern.

He went on an 11-game goal drought, which he snapped at even-strength in Saturday’s loss against the Islanders.

“I think you are gripping it maybe a bit too tight and trying to force it in where if you’re so focused on and hung up on the chances that you miss, it’s going to take away from the next chance,” Tkachuk said.

“I know that we are not like that. I know that if it’s not going in, it’s just not going in and we are going to work hard and try to finish them off next time.

“I’m not worried about it. I think we have enough chances, so it’s going to go in at some point. Hopefully it can start coming in bunches.”

The Panthers have had a few key changes to adjust to with not a whole lot of time to adjust to them, as well.

Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour returned from injury and bumped Evan Rodrigues and Oliver Ekman-Larsson from the top unit.

Since they returned to the lineup on Nov. 17, they are 5-for-28 on the power play, including an 0-for-15 stretch near the end of November.

Since scoring three on the power play in Ottawa — which ended their drought — Florida is 1-for-9 on the man advantage in the past three games.

A good portion of those being abbreviated power plays following other penalties.

“I think it’s together when lately, we’ve had maybe one-and-a-half power plays per game,” Montour said.

“So, in that case, we have limited chances so we have to bear down with urgency. We were feeling good after that Ottawa game — and we had a few more power lays there — so we have to get more touches and get more familiar back with the unit we had.

”We are comfortable with each other. We just have to keep that urgency up, creating chances, shooting the puck and get in front of the goalie.”

ON DECK

DALLAS STARS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • National TV/Streaming: TNT, HBO Max
  • Radio: WAXY 790-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Last Season: Dallas won 2-0
  • This Season — At Florida: Wednesday. At Dallas: March 12.
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 24-21-2, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Friday vs. Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.

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