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game recap

Panthers win, get closer to Eastern wild card

Florida seven points out of second spot; Jonathan Marchessault scores twice against Coyotes

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers moved within seven points of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot with a 3-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes at BB&T Center on Thursday.

Jonathan Marchessault scored twice in a 26-second span late in the second period for the Panthers, who trail the Boston Bruins for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference with one game in hand.

Marchessault, who signed as an unrestricted free agent July 1, leads Florida with 25 goals.

 

 WATCH: All Coyotes vs. Panthers highlights

 

"Obviously I'm really happy," Marchessault said. "I had a good chance here with the team and it's been fun playing with the guys here this year. It's just great that we get the win, too, tonight. It's been a long time."

Shawn Thornton scored for the Panthers (32-30-11), who won for the fourth time in 15 games. James Reimer, making his ninth start in 10 games, made 22 saves.

Tobias Rieder scored for Arizona (27-38-9), which was eliminated from playoff contention Monday. Mike Smith made 36 saves.

Video: ARI@FLA: Marchessault tallies twice in 26 seconds

Rieder made it 1-0 3:20 into the first period on a breakaway. The Panthers scored three goals in the second period, when they had a 19-4 shot advantage.

"It's been our Achilles' heel; when other teams elevate their play we don't have enough players who know how to handle that or we don't push back enough," Smith said. "We end up defending all game."

Thornton tied it 1-1 at 7:38 after a turnover behind the Arizona net.

Marchessault gave Florida a 2-1 lead at 17:38 on a 2-on-1 when he one-timed Aleksander Barkov's saucer pass. Marchessault scored again at 18:04 on another 2-on-1 after a turnover in the Arizona zone. He took a pass from Thomas Vanek and beat Smith with a high wrist shot from the left circle.

"That was a good shift," Marchessault said. "[Barkov's] pass was unbelievable and same with Vanek's. They're two great players, great passers, and I just had to put it in at that point."

 

Goal of the game

Rieder scored after he intercepted a pass at the Arizona blue line and skated around defenseman Jakub Kindl to come in alone on Reimer. Rieder beat the goalie with a quick shot after a backhand-to-forehand move.

Video: ARI@FLA: Rieder opens scoring on a swift breakaway

 

Save of the game

Coyotes forward Josh Jooris found himself in the slot after a turnover in the Panthers zone. He released a high wrist shot, but Reimer snagged it with his glove at 3:05 of the third period.

Video: ARI@FLA: Reimer robs Jooris from the slot

 

Highlight of the game

Thornton's goal was allowed after a video review determined his rebound crossed the goal line before the net, which was pushed down from behind by Smith and Coyotes forward Jordan Martinook, was off its moorings.

"Everyone said the net didn't come off the moorings, so technically it should count," Thornton said. "I had no idea. There's a reason I didn't go fist-bump the bench after it went in. But it counted. I'll take them any way I can get them at this point."

Video: ARI@FLA: Thornton tallies on a wild exchange in front

 

Unsung performance of the game

Arizona led 1-0 in the second period when it had a 2-on-1 and Jooris got a pass near the inside of the right circle. Defenseman Michael Matheson was able to quickly pivot to get his stick on Jooris' shot to send it over the glass. Matheson blocked two shots and had one hit in 22:08.

 

They said it

"We were all right in the first, then they turned it up in the second and we didn't respond too well in the second and third. When you make too many mistakes like that it ends up in the back of your net. That's what you get." -- Coyotes coach Dave Tippett

 

"That first period I thought we were terrible. But give the guys a lot of credit. They regrouped and came out and played really good in the second. We played our game. When we go north with the puck all the time like we did tonight and like we did on the West Coast (during a 5-0-0 road trip), we're a great team." -- Panthers coach Tom Rowe

 

Need to know

Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (neck) was out of the lineup for the fifth time in six games with an injury Rowe said was unrelated to the concussion that kept him out four games before he returned in a 4-3 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. … Coyotes rookie defenseman Jakob Chychrun, a native of Boca Raton, Florida, who played youth hockey in South Florida, played his first game at BB&T Center. He was recognized with a brief video feature during the second intermission. … There were no penalties in the game.

 

What's next

Coyotes: At the Washington Capitals on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-A, CSN-DC+, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, WGN, FS-F, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Marchessault's two-goals lead Panthers to 3-1 win

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