Trocheck Strikes Again…Florida Panthers Game Recap — Game 41 @ Carolina Hurricanes:

FLA: 0 | CAR: 3 FINAL

It was another matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes that the Florida Panthers would rather forget about. Carolina has easily been the worst matchup for the Panthers in this newly formed Central Division. The Florida Panthers would start Chris Driedger in net, while Carolina would go with rookie sensation Alex Nedeljkovic.

Florida would not be as fortunate to start this game as strong as they did the previous game against the Hurricanes. Carolina’s suffocating forecheck was going to work very early against the Panthers, and the Canes were breaking down every possible chance the Panthers had at sustained offensive zone possession. Florida would kill off an early Hurricanes Power Play, but they wouldn’t be able to hold off the #1 Power Play unit in the NHL for long. At 14:31 of the first period Sebastian Aho would score his 16th goal of the season, this one on the Power Play with assists from Vincent Trocheck (17) and Andrei Svechnikov (18). There was a feeling in this game that the first goal was going to be incredibly important, sure enough it would be. The Hurricanes would take a 1–0 lead into the first intermission.

The Hurricanes forecheck only got better as the game went on, and Florida was having difficulty even moving the puck through the Neutral Zone. Carolina would double their lead a little over six minutes into the second period, as Vincent Trocheck would score his 16th goal of the season in perhaps the flukiest goal you’ll see all season long. The puck ricocheted off of the right goal post, popped up at least 10 feet in the air, then hit goalie Chris Driedger in the back and trickled over the goal line. The goal would officially be assisted by Martin Necas (20) and Brady Skjei (6). It would be Trocheck’s sixth goal against the Panthers this season in six games played against them. He really has it out for his former team it appears.

All the wind would be taken out of the Panthers’ sails at this point in the game. They could not get any zone pressure against the Canes, leading to very few high-danger chances against Nedeljkovic. The Hurricanes would continue their forechecking dominance through the end of the period, and Florida would head into the second intermission down 2–0.

The third period was more of the same from the first 40 minutes of the game. Carolina had put the clamps down on Florida’s attack, and there was nothing working for the Panthers to create any offensive opportunities. Carolina was content with just separating the Panthers from the puck and throwing it back into the Panthers zone, because they knew that Florida wouldn’t be able to put two pucks past Nedeljkovic to tie the game. Florida would attempt to pull the goalie with about two minutes remaining in the game, to no avail. Martin Necas would score an empty-netter at 19:08 to bring the score to 3–0 in favor of Carolina. It would be Necas’s 10th goal of this season, this one assisted by Nino Niederreiter (10). Florida would lose their second straight game, and it would be their 5th straight loss to Carolina. Florida is 1–3–2 against Carolina this season, so they can’t wait for the final two games of the season against them to be over. Carolina’s rookie goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic would record his third shutout of the season, to go along with his impressive 1.98 GAA and .928 SV% in 15 games.

The Three Stars from tonight’s game:

  1. Alex Nedeljkovic, G (CAR): 24 saves on 24 shots, W
  2. Vincent Trocheck, C (CAR): 1 goal, 1 assist
  3. Martin Necas, C (CAR): 1 goal, 1 assist

With the win against the Panthers, Carolina moves into first place of the Central Division with 57 points. Florida and Tampa Bay are currently tied for second place with 56 points. It will be a dog fight all the way to the end of the season to see who ends up first in the division.

Florida will look to bounce-back as they continue their current road trip. Their next stop will be in Dallas for a two-game set against the Dallas Stars. Florida is 4–1 so far against Dallas this season, so they will definitely be looking to take advantage of these next two games. The first of the two-game set will be on Saturday, 4/10. That game will start at 2 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.