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5 Takeaways: Pysyk's Hat Trick Leads Panthers to Win in Toronto

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

2/3/20 Post Game Interviews

2/3/20 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, forward Jonathan Huberdeau and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky

  • 01:05 •

With Aleksander Barkov out of the lineup, the Florida Panthers needed someone to step up.

Enter defenseman-turned-forward Mark Pysyk.

Coming up with big goal after big goal, Pysyk, who entered the game with four goals all season, scored twice in the third period to complete the first hat trick of his NHL career and help lead the Panthers to a huge 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Monday night.

"He does it all," Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau said of Pysyk. "It's impressive."

Picking up their seventh win in their last eight games, the Panthers (29-17-5) jumped over the Maple Leafs (28-18-7) with tonight's win to claim third place in the jam-packed Atlantic Division.

"It was the biggest game of the year so far," Huberdeau said. "We're close and we want to get into the playoffs. These games are four-point games that we've got to win. That's what we did."

After weathering more than 10 minutes without registering a shot on goal to start the game, the Panthers ended up opening the scoring when Pysyk took a pass from Mike Matheson and sent a quick one-timer past Frederik Andersen from in close to make it 1-0 at 11:30 of the first period.

Later in the period, Frank Vatrano collided with Andersen while attempting to crash the net. And although Andersen remained in the game, he did not return for the second period due to what is being descried as an upper-body injury. In his absence, Michael Hutchinson took over in net.

In the second, the Maple Leafs answered right back with a power-play goal from John Tavares, who re-directed a shot past Sergei Bobrovsky from the slot to make it a 1-1 game at 3:21. Then, with 55 seconds left in the period, William Nylander put Toronto up 2-1 off another re-direction.

Already behind the eight ball, Auston Matthews made it 3-1 just 38 seconds into the third period.

Still, the Panthers didn't panic.

Starting with a goal from Pysyk at 2:20, the "Cardiac Cats" went on to score three unanswered goals within a span of 7:53 to turn the game on its head. After Huberdeau potted a power play goal at 3:18 to make it 3-3, Mike Hoffman made it 4-3 with eventual game-winning goal at 10:13.

"We had a lot of enthusiasm on the bench even though we were down 3-1," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "We scored rather quickly after that. We were in the game and had a little life. I still think there's room for us to be better, but certainly being down the way we were it's a surprising comeback."

With under a minute left, Pysyk finished off his hat trick with an empty-net goal to make it 5-3.

"Now it's even more fun in the locker room," Bobrovsky, who stopped 31 of 34 shots to pick up his 20th win of the season, said of Pysyk's unforgettable night. "He's that type of guy. He relaxes the team a little bit. I'm so happy to see him score three goals."

In coming from behind to steal a win yet again, the Panthers joined the Washington Capitals as the only two teams in the league with four multi-goal comebacks in the third period this season.

Here are five takeaways from Monday's win in Toronto…

1. FOURTH LINE STRIKES

The fourth line came up big tonight.

Digging in at the top of the crease, Pysyk broke the ice for the Panthers when he took a pass from Matheson -- who dished the biscuit through a pair of defenders after a few nifty moves -- and one-timed a shot past Anderson and into the net to make it 1-0 at 11:30 of the first period.

Video: FLA@TOR: Pysyk nets Matheson's gorgeous feed

"I think I was in front of the net the whole shift," Pysyk said during the first intermission. "My linemates, Howie (Jayce Hawryluk) and Malgy (Denis Malgin) did a lot of the work, and then Matty (Matheson) obviously with the great pass. I just shot it as hard as I could, and it went in."

Coming together for the first time this season, the fourth line of Pysyk, Malgin and Hawryluk finished with four points (three goals, one assist) against the Maple Leafs.

In addition to their offense, the trio also brought a lot of energy to the ice while combining for five hits and three takeaways.

2. RUNNING ON PYSYK POWER

When the hybrid is fully charged, look out!

Using his 6-foot-1, 196-pound frame to carve out some valuable real estate in front of Toronto's net once again, Pysyk maneuvered around a defender before banging in a rebound following a long wrist shot from Matheson to cut Florida's deficit down to 3-2 at 2:20 of the third period.

Video: FLA@TOR: Pysyk cleans up rebound for second goal

Not done there, Pysyk put the game away later in the final frame. With 48 seconds remaining in regulation, the man Keith Yandle has dubbed the "Toyota Prius" sent the Panthers bench into a frenzy when he forced a turnover, shrugged off a trip and buried an empty-net goal to not only secure the first hat trick of his career, but also lock in the 5-3 final.

Video: FLA@TOR: Pysyk scores on empty net for hat trick

"They were all beating me up, roughing me up a little bit," Pysyk said of the reaction from his teammates after the goal. "It's a lot of fun."

Seeing a spike in his offensive numbers since transitioning from defense to forward, Pysyk has now set a new career-high with seven goals. Finding ways to contribute regularly from the fourth line, the 28-year-old dual threat has nine points (five goals, four assists) in his last 11 games.

Helping out on two of Pysyk's three goals, Matheson finished with a career-high three assists.

3. AN ALL-STAR GOAL

When in doubt, turn to your All-Star.

Sent to the power play shortly after Pysyk's goal, Huberdeau slid down into the slot before re-directing a pass from Hoffman past Hutchinson to tie the game 3-3 at 3:18 of the third period.

Video: FLA@TOR: Huberdeau draws it even with PPG in 3rd

"I think we just wanted to play harder, that was our goal," Huberdeau said of Florida's late turnaround. "We were just down 2-1. It wasn't the end of the world. The early goal in the third hurt a little bit, but we didn't panic. That's our team. We win some games. We came back."

Leading the Panthers and ranking seventh in the league with 66 points (19 goals, 47 assists), Huberdeau continues to excel on the man advantage this season. As it stands now, the 26-year-old winger sits tied for fourth in the league in points (25) and third in assists (21) on the power play.

4. HOFFMAN NETS THE WINNER

Known for his powerful shot, Hoffman showed off a soft touch on this one.

After a blast from Aaron Ekblad ricocheted off the end boards, Hoffman gathered the puck before backhanding it off a defender's skate and through Hutchinson's five-hole to put the Panthers up 4-3 with what held up to be the game-winning goal at 10:13 of the third period.

Video: FLA@TOR: Hoffman banks puck home off defender

"Not too pretty, just getting some time in the offensive zone," Hoffman told Panthers radio play-by-play host Doug Plagens on 560 WQAM after the game. "I heard someone calling for it in the slot area, so I kind of tossed it there blindly. I don't know how it went in, but we'll take it."

One game removed from having his 10-game point streak snapped, Hoffman continues to pile up the points for the Panthers. Ranking third on Florida with 42 points (19 goals, 23 assists), the 30-year-old winger has notched six goals and nine assists for 15 points over his last 12 games.

"To get another two points [in the standings] tonight is big for us," Hoffman said.

With an assist on the play, Ekblad also registered the 200th point of his NHL career.

5. BOBROVSKY'S BIG STOPS

If not for Bobrovsky, the Panthers comeback likely would have never been possible.

Improving to 9-4-0 over his last 13 starts, the 31-year-old goaltender stood tall against the Maple Leafs, turning aside 31 shots - including all 13 he faced in the first period - to earn the win.

"Very happy with it," Quenneville said of Bobrovsky's performance. "I thought he was great. He made some key saves, timely saves. It looked like he was very alert with what was going on. There was a lot of bouncing pucks, tipped pucks around him. He did what he had to do."

Likely Bobrovsky's biggest save of the night - and let me tell you, there were more than a few - came early in the third period when he pushed across the crease just in time to gobble up Pierre Engvall's dangerous one-timer attempt on the rush from in close to keep the game knotted 3-3.

That save was one of 11 high-danger stops he made tonight, according to NautralStatTrick.com.

Video: FLA@TOR: Bobrovsky robs Engvall on the rush

"I saw the opposition player going backdoor, so I tried to go as fast as possible there," Bobrovsky said of his save on Evngall. "I was fortunate. In the blocking position, it hit me."

BONUS: A LOT OF GAMES FOR ANTON

Anton Stralman skated in the 800th game of his NHL career tonight.

In the midst of his 13th season, the 33-year-old defenseman was originally selected by Toronto in the seventh round (216th overall) in the 2003 NHL Draft. In the first season of a three-year deal with the Panthers, he's racked up 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 51 games played.

"Funny how that works, right?" Stralman said of hitting his milestone against the Maple Leafs.

Tweet from @FlaPanthersPR: Tonight vs. TOR, #FlaPanthers defenseman Anton Stralman is playing in his 800th @NHL game. pic.twitter.com/FxRBxfTcvU

Congrats, Anton!

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