"I don't have a good explanation except that he's got the amazing factor right now," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said of Acciari, who has 12 goals over his last 12 games. "He's as hot as can be with his stick and tipping. He got a fortunate bounce right off the bat to get us started. He almost got another one of those hat tricks. It's pretty amazing what he's achieved already."
Firing on all cyclinders from the get-go, the Panthers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from Acciari and Mark Pysyk at 1:00 and 3:01, respectively. At 6:51, the Canucks managed to get on the board when Brock Boeser re-directed a shot past Sergei Bobrovsky to make it 2-1.
Improving to 5-3-0 over his last eight starts, Bobrovsky stopped 30 of 32 shots.
"I thought the guys put in a 60-minute, solid effort," said Bobrovsky, who stopped 13 of 14 shots from high-danger areas in the victory. "I thought we played really strong and solid in all zones."
With 1:07 remaining the opening frame, the Panthers regained their two-goal cushion when Evgenii Dadonov finished off a 2-on-1 break with captain Aleksander Barkov to make it 3-1.
In the second, Jonathan Huberdeau sent social media into quite the frenzy when he upended a defender with a powerful deke before sending a cross-ice pass to Mike Hoffman. Left all alone on the power play, Hoffman then ripped a power-play goal past Thatcher Demko to make it 4-1.
Demko, who was under duress most of the game, finished with 44 saves on 49 shots.
"That was special, not many people can do that," Acciari said of Huberdeau's outstanding stickwork. "I can't wait to go home and watch that back all night. I'm glad he's on my team."
Padding their lead in the final frame, Acciari notched his second goal of the night and sent the Panthers ahead 5-1 when he tipped a shot from Aaron Ekblad into the cage at 6:55. At 12:14, Tyler Motte got one goal back for Vancouver when he capitalized on a turnover to make it 5-2.
With the win, the Panthers improved to 23-16-5, which places them just one point behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Overall, they've won eight of their last 12 games and have scored at least five goals six different times in that span.
Up next? A crucial Atlantic Division tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs at home on Sunday.
"It's a chance to close that gap," Quenneville said. "Going into the break, we want to have a real positive six games - now five - and finish in a position where we feel we're in a playoff spot."
Here are five takeaways from Thursday's win in Sunrise…
1. CAN'T STOP, WON'T STOP
There's something special going on with No. 55.
Jumping on a stray puck after a pass from Canucks defensemen Quinn Hughes ricocheted off the skate of a forechecking Vincent Trocheck, Acciari waited a split second before lifting a shot over Demko's blocker from near the net to put the Panthers up 1-0 at 19:00 of the first period.
Video: VAN@FLA: Acciari capitalizes off the turnover
Of course, he wasn't done there.
Gliding into the slot after a faceoff win in the offensive zone, the 28-year-old tipped a heavy slap shot from Ekblad straight into the twine to push Florida's lead to 5-1 at 6:55 of the third period. Since Dec. 12, Acciari is tied with Auston Matthews for the most goals in the league (12).
Video: VAN@FLA: Acciari tips Ekblad's blast for second goal
"It's a good streak going right now, but you don't want to think about it too much," Acciari said. "You just want to kind of keep playing the game and getting in the right areas. Again, I've got to give a lot of credit to my linemates. They've been awesome through this whole thing."
In his first season with the Panthers, Acciari has already reached new career-bests in goals (17) and points (20) through just 41 games played. In addition to his offensive numbers, however, he also brings an edge to the ice, which is evidenced by his team-leading 79 hits and 68 blocks.
"He does everything you want," Quenneville said. "He's been a great addition to our team."
2. PYSYK POTS ONE
The Panthers saw some nice contributions from their fourth line tonight.
Flying up the ice on an odd-man rush, Colton Sceviour threaded a gorgeous pass through the slot right onto the stick of Pysyk, who then tapped the puck under Demko's pads and into the back of the net to increase Florida's advantage to 2-0 at 3:01 - just 2:01 after Acciari's goal.
Video: VAN@FLA: Pysyk scores on Sceviour's perfect pass
"He made a great pass to me," Pysyk said. "I just tried to get my stick on it and luckily it went in."
Shifting between defensemen and forward this season, Pysyk, who played up front against the Canucks, has racked up three goals, four assists, 24 hits and 25 blocks in 33 games played.
Overall, the fourth line combined for three points, three takeaways and four blocks tonight.
"I thought that line had a real good start to the game," Quenneville said. "That goal put us in a really good spot. That line took a lot of big faceoffs in their own end and did what they had to do to get the puck into the offensive zone. That line was very effective."
Want to hear from Pysyk? Check out his interview in a recent episode of Territory Talk below!
3. DADONOV STAYS HOT
Acciari isn't the only Panther carrying a hot stick right now.
Entering the zone on a 2-on-1 break, Barkov lured the defender in before dishing the puck to Dadonov, who then lifted it into the net to put Florida on top 3-1 at 18:53 of the second period.
Video: VAN@FLA: Dadonov finishes the break with Barkov
Lighting the lamp seven times over his last 10 games, Dadonov now leads the Panthers with 19 goals this season. On pace to surpass the career-high 28 goals that he's notched in each of the last two seasons, the 30-year-old winger also ranks third on the team in scoring with 35 points.
4. PLAYING WITH POWER
There was plenty of hockey left to be played, but this goal felt like a dagger.
With the Panthers on the power play, Huberdeau blew up a defender with a quick deke before dishing the puck across the slot to Hoffman. Set up in his usual spot in the right circle, the gifted sniper then fired a one-timer into the net to extend the lead to 4-1 at 3:40 of the second period.
Video: VAN@FLA: Hoffman fires one-timer off Huberdeau's pass
"Special teams are very important," Hoffman said. "I like the way we've been going here tonight… From the first shift in the first period, I thought everyone was playing the right way."
Finding the back of the net in each of his last three games, Hoffman has been piling up the point as of late. Over his last 10 games, he's recorded four goals and six assists. One of Florida's top weapons on the man advantage, six of his 16 goals this season have come on the power play.
5. THE "WOW-WOW"
So, yeah, about that pass from Huberdeau.
Skating toward the net after collecting a pass from Keith Yandle near the left boards, the 26-year-old winger dangled the puck with such voracity that Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev lost his footing and fell straight to the ice, which freed up enough space to get the puck to Hoffman.
"We talk about the wow factor," said Quenneville, pausing to smile. "That was a wow-wow."
Since it went down, the play has already been shared by top news sites around the league.
Huberdeau, however, hasn't taken a second look yet.
"I didn't see it," the 2020 NHL All-Star said. "I'll probably watch it after."
Leading the Panthers and ranking seventh in the league with 59 points (17 goals, 42 assists) this season, Huberdeau is also now on the cusp of making franchise history. With two more helpers tonight, he moved within one point of tying Olli Jokinen's all-time points record of 419.
BONUS: 100 HELPERS
With an assist tonight, Brian Boyle notched his 100th career NHL helper.
In the midst of his 13 NHL season after signing a one-year deal with the Panthers on Oct. 20, the 35-year-old has provided nice depth for the team this season. In 33 games, he's recorded 13 points (five goals, eight assists), while also winning an impressive 53.5 percent of his draws.