Carter VerHATTY! Florida Panthers Game Recap — Game 34 @ Dallas Stars:

FLA: 4 | DAL: 3 F/OT

Aaron Ekblad would score the game-winning goal with 10 seconds left to go in 3-on-3 overtime, and Carter Verhaeghe would record his second career hat-trick in the Florida Panthers’ 4–3 win against the Dallas Stars. Shortly before pre-game warmups it was announced by Panthers’ head coach Joel Quenneville that captain Aleksander Barkov would miss both games this weekend, and Patric Hornqvist would be out for about a week. Both missing time from recently sustained injuries. Dallas would elect to go with Anton Khudobin in net, while Florida would go with Sergei Bobrovsky.

The scoring would open up quickly for the Florida Panthers, as 24 seconds into the first period Carter Verhaeghe would score his 13th goal of the season to put the Panthers ahead 1–0. The goal would be assisted by Noel Acciari (6).

(Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Carter Verhaeghe scores 24 seconds in for his 13th of the season, assisted by Noel Acciari (6).

It was imperative for the Panthers to get out to a good start in this game because they were in danger of losing their 4th straight game on this road trip. Getting out to this early lead could have set the tone for the rest of the game; however unfortunately for the Panthers, Dallas would not go quietly into the night from here. Dallas would put some heavy pressure on the Panthers throughout the early stages of the first period, and would be rewarded for their hard work 8:01 into the period. Stars forward Denis Gurianov would score his sixth goal of the season on a tap-in goal off a great feed from Jamie Benn. It would be Benn’s 11th assist, and Joel Hanley would record his 3rd assist on the goal as well. After tying the game at one Dallas continued their pressing attack, and would be rewarded again less than two minutes later as John Klingberg would score his seventh goal of the season on a slap-shot from the face-off circle to the right of Bobrovsky to put the Stars ahead 2–1. Assists to Esa Lindell (5) and Radek Faksa (7). Despite the great start, Florida would find themselves giving up two quick goals and falling behind in a pivotal road matchup. Florida would get a late Power Play opportunity due to a Tripping penalty being called on Dallas forward Andrew Cogliano. Florida would capitalize on the opportunity, and it would be Carter Verhaeghe scoring his second goal of the game (14th of the season) with assists from Noel Acciari (7, 2nd of the game) and Owen Tippett (5).

(Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Carter Verhaeghe scores his 14th of the season, 2nd of the game, on the Power Play with assists from Noel Acciari and Owen Tippett.

The first period of tonight’s game would be a very eventful one, and despite some heavy pressure from the Stars the teams would go into the first intermission tied at two.

The second period was relatively even between the Panthers and Stars, as both teams were getting some decent chances on each others’ netminders. Khudobin for Dallas, and Bobrovsky for Florida were both playing well at this point, and both teams had settled into a groove. Dallas would receive a Power Play late in the period, however it would be Carter Verhaeghe completing the hat trick on an incredible individual effort on the Penalty Kill. Verhaeghe would apply pressure to Dallas Defenseman Miro Heiskanen to force a turnover, and Verhaeghe would fire an absolute snipe of a shot to score his third of the game, and his 15th goal of the season. Verhaeghe’s hat trick would include an even-strength goal, a Power Play goal, and a Short-handed goal.

(Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Carter Verhaeghe completes the hat-trick on the Penalty Kill, unassisted for his 15th goal of the season to pull the panthers ahead 3–2.

Thanks to the efforts of Carter Verhaeghe the Panthers would take a 3–2 lead into the third period.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the lead would not last long in the period. Stars forward Joel L’Esperance would score his first goal of the season at 3:00 in the third period with assists from Joel Hanley (4, 2nd of the game) and Andrej Sekera (2). The score would be tied 3–3 for the remainder of the game, as Florida spent the rest of the third period attempting to hold of the Dallas Stars attack. Dallas would out-shoot the Panthers 12–4 in the period, however they would only get the single goal past Bobrovsky and the game would require overtime to decide a winner.

There would be some fast and furious action throughout the 3-on-3 overtime, as both teams were getting fantastic chances and each goalie was making timely saves. Florida would find the back of the net 4:16 in, as Aaron Ekblad would score a one-timer off a feed from Frank Vatrano. The goal would ultimately be waved off after a league-initiated review found that Ekblad entered the zone offside, therefore the goal would be disallowed. Overtime would continue, and Dallas would get a great chance down low to the side of Bobrovsky’s net, and Bobrovsky would make an unbelievable blocker save on Miro Heiskanen to keep the game going. Florida would take the puck the other way, and Ekblad would not be denied the game winner on this possession. Huberdeau would feed Ekblad in the low-slot, and Ekblad would go forehand-backhand to put the puck past Anton Khudobin for the win with 10 seconds remaining in the game. It would be Ekblad’s 11th goal of the season, with assists from Jonathan Huberdeau (26) and Carter Verhaeghe (13).

(Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ekblad’s initial game-winning goal was waived off for being offside, his 2nd goal in overtime would seal the victory for Florida with assists from Huberdeau (26) and Verhaeghe (13).

This was a fantastic team victory for the Panthers, and one that they desperately needed to show that they are still a dangerous team even without their leading goal scorers in Barkov and Hornqvist. Carter Verhaeghe would have a game-high four points total, including the hat trick, and hopefully this propels the Panthers into another winning streak.

The Three Stars from tonight’s game:

The Florida Panthers will look to use this momentous victory to set the tone in the rematch against the Dallas Stars tomorrow night. That game will start at 6 p.m. ET.

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Joseph London

South Florida sports fan. Mostly cover the Florida Panthers NHL team, but also scattered stories about the Dolphins, Heat, and Marlins! Thank you for reading.