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5 Takeaways: Panthers Stun Wild in Final Seconds, Push Win Streak to 5

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

1/20/20 Post Game Interviews

1/20/20 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, forwards Vincent Trocheck and Noel Acciari and defenseman Keith Yandle

  • 01:35 •

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The Florida Panthers have slayed a metaphorical dragon.

After Vincent Trocheck tied the game late, Noel Acciari tipped in the game-winning goal with 5.6 seconds left in regulation to lift the Florida Panthers to a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Monday - their first-ever regulation win in the North Star State.

In completing the comeback, Florida also extended its season-long win streak to five games.

"It's huge," said Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle, who posted a game-high four points (one goal, three assists). "We want to keep this thing rolling, obviously. We weren't satisfied going into overtime. We weren't playing on our heels because that's when you can get in trouble."

Entering tonight's matchup, the Panthers owned an all-time record of 1-9-1-1 in Minnesota.

"We'll take that type of game, but every game's kind of different with how it plays out," Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville said. "Our group finds a way to score some big goals, very timely goals, and none more timely than the one at the end."

The Panthers opened up the scoring in the first period when Mike Hoffman sent a tape-to-tape pass through the slot to Yandle, who then cashed in on a one-timer to make it 1-0 at 4:01. But with 17 seconds left in the frame, Jared Spurgeon tied the game 1-1 with a power-play goal.

In the second period, Aleksander Barkov briefly regained the lead for Florida when he collected a slick stretch pass from Josh Brown before beating Alex Stalock on a breakaway to make it 2-1 at 7:28. At 10:59, however, the Wild tied it again at 2-2 on a shorthanded goal from Luke Kunin.

Sent to the power play early in the third period, the Panthers re-took the lead once again when Evgenii Dadonov tipped home his team-leading 22nd goal of the season to make it 3-2 at 2:02.

Once again, that lead was short-lived. At 4:19, the Wild answered with a power-play goal of their own from Zach Parise to even things up at 3-3. Soon after, Kunin netted his second goal of the contest and gave Minnesota its first lead of the night when he sent a shot past Sergei Bobrovsky from the slot to make it 4-3 at 7:06.

Bobrovsky finished with 29 saves, while Stalock stopped 20 of 25 shots.

With 4:08 left in regulation, Trocheck ignited Florida's late comeback when he drove to the net and slipped a shot through Stalock's five-hole, throwing up his arms and shouting "Let's go!" during the ensuing celebration. And on the back of that huge goal, the Panthers set their sights on the win.

Video: FLA@MIN: Trocheck's low wrist shot beats Stalock

"We battled hard," Trocheck said. "Being down a goal and continuing to work as hard as we did and being resilient and not giving up was huge. If we can do that for a full 60 [minutes] next game, it'll be even better."

After Trocheck tied the game, it was "Big Goal Noel's" time to shine.

Fighting for position in the slot, Acciari tipped in a goal with just 5.6 seconds left on the clock to secure the 5-4 win - Florida's 12th in their last 16 games. A rare double deflection, the puck was first tipped by Aaron Ekblad before it got to Acciari, who then re-directed it into the back of the net.

"It showed our character," Acciari said of the victory, one fans won't soon forget. "Being able to come back from behind late and being able to win it in the last couple seconds was huge for us."

Here are five takeaways from Monday's win in Saint Paul…

1. TOO MUCH TO YANDLE

Florida struck first once again tonight.

Flying down through the slot, Yandle took a beautiful backdoor feed from Hoffman and then quickly one-timed the puck past Stalock to put the Panthers up 1-0 at 4:01 of the first period.

Video: FLA@MIN: Hoffman sets up Yandle with a great pass

Compiling a team-high four points (one goal, three assists) in Minnesota, Yandle now ranks tied for second among the league's defensemen in assists (34) and is also tied for first in power-play points (20). Among Florida's blueliners, the 33-year-old resides in first in assists and points (39).

"I thought he did a lot of good things," Quenneville said of Yandle's night.

The Panthers are now 22-2-2 when scoring first this season.

2. KEEPING THE STREAK ALIVE

Don't look now, but Hoffman is starting to threaten a record set by… himself.

With the primary assist on Yandle's goal, the 30-year-old winger pushed his point streak to nine games. In the process, he is now more than halfway to the longest streak in franchise history of 17 games, which Hoffman set last season when he went on a torrid run from Oct. 13 - Nov. 21.

"(Hoffman's) been productive lately," Quenneville said. "Those guys make their line dangerous."

During his current streak, he's been doing a little bit of everything while amassing five goals and six assists. In his second campaign with the Cats, Hoffman ranks tied for second on the team in goals (18) and power-play goals (7), while also leading the team in total shots on goal (131).

3. BARKOV'S BREAKAWAY

Only Barkov could make such a difficult play look so easy.

Sent on a breakaway after a smooth stretch pass from Brown, the Panthers captain opted to go with his changeup rather than a fastball. Gliding across the slot, he patiently waited before deftly floating a shot over Stalock's outstretched glove to make it 2-1 at 7:28 of the second period.

Video: FLA@MIN: Barkov buries beautiful breakaway on Stalock

"It looked more like (Jonathan Huberdeau)," Yandle said of Brown's pass. "Josh Huber-brown, that's what he was calling himself. Unreal pass. Then, obviously, with (Barkov), he's a guy that when he gets a little bit of space he can finish with the best of them."

Extending his point streak to five games, Barkov has notched three goals and four assists in that stretch. The 24-year-old center ranks second on Florida in both assists (36) and points (52), while also sitting second on the team in power-play goals (T-7) and third in power-play points (17).

4. MR. POWER PLAY

Dadonov did it again.

Setting up in the slot on the power play, the 30-year-old winger re-directed a shot from Yandle right through Stalock's pads to give the Panthers a 3-2 advantage at 2:02 of the third period.

Video: FLA@MIN: Dadonov deflects Yandle's shot into the net

"You're very pleased with his compete," Quenneville said of Dadonov. "He finds timely goals."

Pacing the Panthers in goals (22), Dadonov also ranks first on the team and tied for fourth in the league in power-play goals (10). On a five-game point streak, he's notched four goals and one assist in that span. Additionally, in his last 14 games, he's found the back of the net 10 times.

5. BIG GOAL NOEL

Acciari gave a lot of credit to Mark Pysyk on his game-winning goal.

Playing at both forward and defense this season, Pysyk, who Yandle has dubbed "Mark Prius" for his hybrid-style of play, did a great job threading a shot toward the net and onto the stick of Ekblad, who tipped it onto the stick of Acciari, who then tipped in home to secure in the 5-4 win.

Video: FLA@MIN: Acciari nets game-winner in final seconds

"He's doing everything," Acciari said of Pysyk, who was credited with a secondary assist on the clutch goal. "He's playing D and forward. He's doing all the right things. It's awesome to see."

In the midst of a breakout campaign, Acciari has notched 13 goals over his last 16 games, pushing his total on the season to a career-high 18. The 28-year-old also leads Florida and ranks first among the league's forwards in blocks (74), including a three against the Wild.

"He's scored some big goals for us, and that might have been as big as we've had," Quenneville said. "That was very good timing for him and for us. He does have an amazing knack around the net."

BONUS: CHICAGO BOUND

The Panthers have one game left to fortify their place in the standings before the break.

Sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division with a 27-16-5 record, Florida leads fourth-place Toronto by two points and has also played one fewer game. That game in hand will vanish, however, on Tuesday when the team closes out an important back-to-back set in Chicago.

"One more game before the break," Acciari said. "We've got to end it on a high note."

In addition to the general importance of the matchup, the game will also be a homecoming for Quenneville, who coached the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013, 2015) and nine playoff appearances over parts of 10 seasons before joining the Panthers back on April 8.

"It's an important game for both teams," Quenneville said. "It'll be fun to be back there, for sure."

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