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5 Takeaways: Acciari's 2nd Straight Hat Trick Leads Panthers Past Stars

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

12/20/19 Post Game Interviews

12/20/19 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville and forwards Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Noel Acciari.

  • 01:35 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - At least for tonight, Noel Acciari has a new nickname.

"He's turning into 'Noel Gretzky' out there," Panthers center Vincent Trocheck said.

While he's never going to touch the Great One's all-time numbers, the last two games couldn't have gone better for Acciari, who recorded a hat trick for the second consecutive game to lead the high-flying Florida Panthers to a 7-4 over the Dallas Stars at BB&T Center on Friday night.

"It feels just as good," Acciari said. "As a line, we are playing well together."

Acciari is just the second player in franchise history to post back-to-back hat tricks, joining Hall of Famer Pavel Bure, who accomplished the feat in consecutive games on Feb. 10 and Feb. 14.

Prior to his hat tricks, Acciari had never registered a multi-goal game in his NHL career.

"A great couple of games for him," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said.

After Jonathan Huberdeau and Anton Stralman each lit the lamp in the first period to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission, Vincent Trocheck and Colton Sceviour followed suit in the second, finding the back of the net 1:31 apart to increase the lead to 4-1.

Then, for just a few minutes, No. 55 looked a little bit like No. 99.

Taking a pass from Trocheck, Acciari quickly re-directed the puck past Ben Bishop and into the back of the net to make it 5-1 at 7:26 of the middle frame. Then, just 32 seconds later, he found twine again when he one-timed another pass from Trocheck past Bishop to make it 6-1 at 7:58.

Video: DAL@FLA: Acciari adds to scoring rally with one-timer

At 11:25, Acciari sent the hats and rubber rats flying onto the ice for the second time this week when he completed his rapid-fire hat trick by converting the first penalty shot of his NHL career. Scoring all three goals within a span of 3:59, Acciari's hat trick is the fastest in franchise history.

"The whole bench was pretty excited about it," Quenneville said of the mood on the bench after the goal. "I'm glad they awarded him the penalty shot. It was fun for everybody knowing that he's got the magic touch right now. I think everybody in the whole building was happy for him."

Indeed the fans -- who probably need to restock their hat racks during the holiday break - were sent into a frenzy by Acciari's big night, which, most importantly, led to a much-needed victory.

While the Stars recorded three goals in the third period, the Panthers hung on to win 7-4 and finish their franchise-record, nine-game homestand with a 5-4-0 record. Overall, the team now sits at 17-12-5 on the season - one point behind Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Making his seventh straight start, Sergei Bobrovsky wrapped up a resurgent stretch of games with a 27-save performance against Dallas. Over those seven games, 31-year-old netminder, who improved to 13-9-4 with the win, turned aside 230 of 244 shots for a .943 save percentage.

Ending its homestand on a high note, Florida scored 13 combined goals in two straight wins.

"Not every night's going to be 6-1 or a 7-4 win," Acciari said. "We have to learn to win 2-1, 1-0 games. I think the past two games we've played complete games. We're on our way to doing that. We can play a tough, gritty game, too."

Here are five takeaways from Friday's win in Sunrise…

1. THE PENALTY SHOT

"Don't trip. Don't fall."

With a hat trick on the line in the second period, Acciari admitted that his nerves were running high as he prepared to take a penalty shot on goaltender Anton Khudobin, who came into the game in relief of Bishop following Acciari's second goal of the night just a few minutes earlier.

Funny, you would never have guessed it while watching him from afar.

As he skated toward the crease, Acciari looked like he was brimming with confidence as he faked a shot before slipping the puck through Khudobin's pads to complete his second hat trick in as many games and extend Florida's lopsided lead to 7-1 with 8:35 left in the middle frame.

Video: DAL@FLA: Acciari converts on penalty shot for hatty

"I followed that the puck as soon as it left my stick to see if it went through," said Acciari, who is just the eighth player in the league's modern era to register hat tricks in consecutive games. "Once I saw it, I was just relieved."

Drawing the penalty that led to his goal while on the penalty kill, Acciari also became just the second player in NHL history to finish a hat trick with a shorthanded penalty shot, joining Theo Fleury, who achieved the same feat back on Oct. 22, 1996 as a member of the Calgary Flames.

With six goals over his last two games, Acciari has reached a new career-high with 11 goals.

"He's the best guy in the world," Trocheck said. "To see him score back-to-back hat tricks, it couldn't happen to a better guy."

2. HUBERDEAU'S RED HOT

He might still be waiting for his first hat trick, but Huberdeau has been on fire as well.

With the Panthers on the power play, Huberdeau corralled a loose puck, made quick move and lifted a shot into the back of the net to break the ice and make it a 1-0 at 4:37 of the first period.

Video: DAL@FLA: Huberdeau spots loose puck, nets PPG

"I'm just so happy for him," Huberdeau said of Acciari's huge night. "He works so hard. To get two hat tricks, it's impressive. I don't even have one yet. It's nice for him to get two in a row."

Racking up three assists after potting his goal -- including helpers on two goals from Acciari -- Huberdeau recorded his second straight four-point game. Off to the hottest start of his career, the 26-year-old winger leads Florida and ranks tied for seventh in league-scoring with 45 points.

Additionally, his 33 assists are tied for the third-most in the league.

3. STRALMAN NETS A BIG ONE

Pucks on net, right?

A little over a minute after Denis Gurianov scored to get the Stars on the board and make it a 1-1 game, Stralman let loose a shot from just below the blue line that deflected off a defender's skate past Bishop and into the net to put the Panthers back up 2-1 at 14:48 of the first period.

Video: DAL@FLA: Stralman scores fortuitous goal off defender

"We missed two chances before that that should have been goals," Huberdeau said. "We were up 1-0 and then they tied it. After that, it was a huge goal [from Stralman] to make it 2-1."

His third goal of the season, Stralman has been chipping in on offense throughout his first tour of duty with the Panthers while also bringing a veteran presence to the team's defensive corps. In 34 games, the 33-year-old has posted 11 points while averaging 21:00 of ice time per game.

Stralman also leads the team with 49 blocks, including one against the Stars tonight.

4. TROCHECK OUT THIS GOAL

With his linemates piling up the points, it was only a matter of time before Trocheck got his.

Entering the second period leading 2-1, Trocheck wasted no time in giving the Panthers a little breathing room. Taking a touch pass from Huberdeau, he kicked the puck from his skate to his stick before slipping a shot right into an open net to make it 3-1 just 1:21 into the middle frame.

Video: DAL@FLA: Trocheck chips home puck from down low

"One of the strengths of this team is that we have a deep lineup," Trocheck said. "We have a lot of guys that contribute every night. Guys like Barky [Aleksander Barkov] and Huby [Huberdeau] are going to be on the scoresheet pretty much every night, but nights they don't it's going to be up to us other guys to kind of step up. Tonight, [the scoring] came from everywhere."

Finishing the night with a goal and two assists, Trocheck earned his first three-point game of the season. Registering four goals and eight assists over his last 16 games, the 26-year-old center has pushed his point total on the season up to 18 (five goals, 13 assists) over 27 games played.

5. SCEVIOUR WITH THE SCORE

After Trocheck's goal, the floodgates opened for the Panthers.

Netting his third goal of the season, Sceviour increased the lead to 4-1 when he slipped behind a pair of defenders, collected a pass and buried a short-side snipe at 2:52 of the second period.

Video: DAL@FLA: Sceviour outpaces the defense, pots wrister

"That's how we win games," Huberdeau said of Florida's depth scoring. "It's nice to see all four lines going and a lot of guys getting on the scoresheets. That's what you want to see. Sceves [Sceviour] had a great shot."

Playing in all 34 of Florida's games this season, Sceviour has produced nine points (three goals, six assists) while playing a primarily fourth-line role. Likely even more important than his offense numbers, however, has been his work on the penalty kill, where he's skated a team-high 84:27.

BONUS: IRON YANDS

Keith Yandle moved up the record books tonight.

Taking the ice for his 831st consecutive game, the 33-year-old veteran defenseman surpassed Andrew Cogliano (830) to claim the fourth-longest iron man streak in league history.

Tweet from @FlaPanthersPR: Tonight vs. DAL, Keith Yandle is playing in his 831st consecutive regular season game, surpassing Andrew Cogliano for sole possession of fourth on the @NHL's all-time consecutive games played list. pic.twitter.com/i2NGTWKRGR

Yandle, who leads Florida's blueliners with 29 points, hasn't missed a game since March 22, 2009.

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