Skip to Main Content

Panthers head to New York healthy, happy

Florida's Trocheck could be option for Game 4 against Islanders

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers headed to New York on Saturday for Games 3 and 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Islanders feeling good about their performance in Games 1 and 2.

The Panthers evened their best-of-7 series with a 3-1 victory at BB&T Center on Friday. Game 3 is at Barclays Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, FS-F).

"We had a good game last night. We had a good win," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Anytime you win a hockey game, you're in a good mood. We're pretty healthy. So everything went well last night. It should be real good."

Gallant said every player on the roster would be in New York, including center Vincent Trocheck.

Trocheck, who has been out since sustaining a foot injury blocking a shot against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 29, skated Saturday. Gallant said Trocheck won't play in Game 3, but left the door open for a return for Game 4 on Wednesday.

"I wouldn't say yes or no," Gallant said. "There's definitely hope, but I wouldn't count on that right now. He's doing better."

Trocheck was the Panthers' fifth-leading scorer during the regular season with 53 points (25 goals, 28 assists).

Video: FLA@BOS: Trocheck rips in a shorthanded goal

Also on the trip is defenseman Steven Kampfer, who last played April 7 because of a lower-body injury. Kampfer skated Thursday and Friday.

Gallant said he was happy with the play of rookie defenseman Michael Matheson, who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut in Game 2. Matheson, the 23rd pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, was a plus-1 in 13:28 of ice time. But Gallant said it was too early to say whether Matheson, who replaced veteran Jakub Kindl in Game 2, would play in Game 3.

"We haven't decided on the lineup for tomorrow, but he played a great game last night," Gallant said of Matheson. "I was real happy with the way he played. He's like every other player; he made a mistake or two, but overall it was a real good, solid game. He showed he belongs."

The line of Reilly Smith, Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen has carried the Panthers offensively through Games 1 and 2, combining for five of the Panthers' seven goals. The line of Jaromir Jagr, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau has yet to score, but Gallant said he is pleased with them.

Barkov is tied with Smith for the team lead with 10 shots on goal in the first two games. Huberdeau has nine shots on goal and Jagr has eight.

"They played real well," Gallant said. "They're creating lots of opportunities, they've just been snake-bit a little bit in trying to put the puck in the net. But [I'm] very happy with the way they're playing and contributing to our team. Their goals will come. Keep working hard and playing well, that's fine."

Video: NYI@FLA, Gm2: Smith sets up Bjugstad to extend lead

Rocco Grimaldi, who had been centering veterans Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell since Bjugstad replaced Trocheck on the line with Smith and Jokinen, was sent to Portland of the American Hockey League on Saturday. Grimaldi played one shift in the third period of Game 2, which Gallant said was a coach's decision.

Forward Logan Shaw was recalled from Portland. He had five goals and two assists in 53 regular-season games with the Panthers.

The Panthers split two games at Barclays Center during the regular season. They won 5-1 on Dec. 15 to begin their franchise-record 12-game winning streak and lost 3-2 on March 14 in a game they led 2-0 with 7:10 left in the third period.

The Panthers were 22-15-4 on the road during the regular season, tied for fifth-most in the League in that department.

"We're going to go to Brooklyn like any other playoff team, and I'm sure their crowd is going to be behind them," Gallant said. "It'll be a good atmosphere. It's good. We're a good road team. We've had a good record all season. Hopefully [we] play well and see what happens."

View More