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5 Takeaways: Panthers End 2018-19 Road Schedule with Win in Boston

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

3/30/19 Post Game Interviews

3/30/19 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Bob Boughner, Aleksander Barkov, Roberto Luongo and Jonathan Huberdeau

  • 01:00 •

BOSTON - The Florida Panthers capped off their 2018-19 road schedule in style.

With a 4-1 win over the Bruins at TD Garden in Saturday afternoon, the Panthers not only snapped Boston's 12-game winning streak at home, but also saw several of their players post stellar individual performances to continue building upon multiple career-best campaigns as the season winds down.

"These guys are fighting until the end," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said of his team. "It's no surprise. I thought they would… There's a lot of character in that room. It's nice to see them coming together."

The Panthers (35-32-12) were an opportunistic bunch in the first period, holding a 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes of action despite having just eight shots on goal. Those goals came from both the bottom and top six, as Riley Sheahan and Evgenii Dadonov each found the back of the net.

In the second period, Noel Acciari managed to score Boston's lone goal of the afternoon, jabbing at the puck and poking a rebound past goaltender Roberto Luongo to make it 2-1 at 13:12. But, just 1:17 later, Troy Brouwer was able to put the Panthers back on top 3-1 with a gorgeous shorthanded goal at 14:19.

Luongo finished with 30 saves -- including 16 in the first period -- to earn his second consecutive victory.

"Lou was standing on his head for a while," Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. "They got really good chances, and Lou helped us to win the game. Overall, I think our defense was good and we eliminated their best chances. But when they got their chances, Lou was unreal."

In pursuit of Pavel Bure's franchise record for most points in a season (94), Barkov notched his 91st point with an assist on Dadonov's second goal of the contest -- an empty netter with 2:19 left in regulation to ice the game and secure the 4-1 final. Since Feb. 17, Barkov leads the NHL with 38 points in 23 games.

Entering today's matchup with a combined 19 goals and 41 assists over their last 12 games, Florida's top line of Barkov, Dadonov and Jonathan Huberdeau lit up the scoresheet once again in Boston, teaming up for two goals and three assists. With three games left, they are all building on career-high point totals.

Florida will now head home to wrap up its season with a three-game homestand at BB&T Center.

"Of course we're kind of a hot line right now," Barkov said. "It would have been nice to play in the playoffs, but it's not this year. We just need to finish the season strong and build up for the next season."

Here are five takeaways from Saturday's win in Boston…

1. RILEY'S RE-DIRECTION

It was quality over quantity for the Panthers in the first period of today's game.

Just as the final second ticked away on Florida's first power play, Dryden Hunt fired a shot on net that pinballed around the crease before bouncing off Sheahan and past goaltender Tuukka Rask to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead on just their third shot of the game at 13:37 of the first opening frame. 

Video: FLA@BOS: Sheahan tallies with fortunate redirection

"It wasn't a pretty one," Sheahan said of the goal. "The guys did a good job getting in front of Rask. The D made a nice play to get the puck to Huntsy, and he got a good shot off. I was just in the right place at the right time and got a nice bounce."

Acquired from Pittsburgh in a multi-player deal on Feb. 1, Sheahan has been a solid contributor in the bottom-six since joining the Panthers. In 30 games since the trade, the 27-year-old has registered two goals and nine assists while also being a huge asset in the faceoff circle, winning 55 percent of his draws.

In 79 total games this season, Sheahan has posted 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists).

2. DADONOV ON THE DOORSTEP

A mere 2:07 after Sheahan's opening tally, Dadonov doubled the lead.

After Rask kicked out a juicy rebound following his stop on a dangerous wrist shot from Aaron Ekblad, Dadonov drove toward the crease before jumping on the loose puck and sweeping it into the net to give himself goals in back-to-back games and extend Florida's advantage on the scoreboard to 2-0 at 15:44.

Video: FLA@BOS: Dadonov powers rebound past Rask

In the midst of his second season since re-joining the Panthers after a five-year stint in the KHL, Dadonov continues to shine on the wing, posting 28 goals and a career-high 68 points, including six goals and 13 assists over his last 13 games. Since 2017-18, the 30-year-old has a team-best 42 goals at even-strength.

3. HUBY AND THE HISTORY BOOKS

Whether it's a career or single-season record, no franchise mark is safe from Huberdeau at this point.

With two assists this afternoon, the 25-year-old winger extended his already franchise-record assist total to 61, while also pushing past "Rat Trick" legend Scott Mellanby for the third-most points in team history with his 355th career point. Olli Jokinen holds the franchise's all-time points record with 419.

But wait, there's more!

Speaking of Jokinen, Huberdeau has also surpassed him for the second-most assists in franchise history, posting the 232nd and 233rd helpers of his career in Boston. He now sits behind only Stephen Weiss (249). 

Tweet from @FlaPanthersPR: Huberdeau's assist today vs. BOS marked his 232nd assist as a Panther, passing Olli Jokinen (231) for sole possession of second in franchise history for assists. pic.twitter.com/ZafXeQehHP

Bolstered by his lofty assist total, Huberdeau has new a new career-high with 88 points this season.

4. SHORTY SZN

Now this was a veteran move.

With the Bruins looking to tie the game on the power play, Brouwer corralled a clearing attempt from Mike Matheson, faked a slap shot while entering the offensive zone, and then blasted a wrist shot off the far post and into the net to extend Florida's lead to 3-1 at 14:19 of the second period.

Video: FLA@BOS: Matheson springs Brouwer for terrific SHG

"That's usually the whole idea with the fake shot," Brouwer said. "Then I tried to pull and change the angle a little bit as well. I was trying to avoid [Brad Marchand's] stick. He was trying to get it in there as well. I was just trying to get it on net and make sure I got a good hard shot off, and it went in."

After inking a one-year deal with the Panthers this past summer, the 33-year-old winger has certainly shown that he's still got more in the tank. In 72 games, Brouwer has recorded 11 goals and nine assists, while also leading the team in hits (166). He has also found the back of the net in back-to-back games.

"A big momentum goal, for sure," Boughner said. "Brouw's has played great as of late. He's adding that physical element as well. Scoring a big goal the other night in Ottawa, scoring a big goal here tonight."

5. WHAT LOU CAN DO FOR YOU

Boughner described Luongo's performance during today's win as "the key to the game."

After stopping 28 of 30 shots to lead the Panthers to a 5-2 win in Ottawa on Thursday, the 39-year-old goaltender stood on his head once again in Boston, making 30 saves to pick up his second consecutive victory.

Of his 30 saves, 16 came in the first period while a total of six came from high-danger areas.

"That's the difference," Boughner said. "We got some big saves at the right time. It gave us a chance to get settled in this game. You go down 2-0, 3-0 against Boston, the chances are it's game over. Louie was the best player on the ice."

Video: FLA@BOS: Luongo snares Chara's blistering wrister

Luongo, who ranks third all-time among NHL goaltenders in wins, has now helped Florida earn at least one point in eight of his last 11 starts, posting a 5-3-3 record with a .914 save percentage in that span.

"I thought in the third period we played hard in our zone and we didn't give them much," said Luongo, who faced only seven shots in the final frame. "We were making hard plays to get the puck out. We played well and protected the lead."

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