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5 Takeaways: Quenneville, Huberdeau Hit Milestones as Cats Beat Rangers

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

11/16/19 Post Game Interviews

11/16/19 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, forward Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman Keith Yandle and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

  • 01:25 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - Jonathan Huberdeau's penchant for playmaking has reached a historic level.

Entering tonight's matchup needing only one assist to break a tie with Stephen Weiss for the most assists in franchise history, Huberdeau instead went on to rack up three in helping lead the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers at BB&T Center on Saturday night.

"It's nice, obviously. It's an accomplishment. I'm really happy," said Huberdeau, who was drafted third overall by Florida in 2011. "I couldn't do it without a lot of the guys here like Barky and Daddy. It's good. It's been eight years. It's a good organization and good to be first in assists."

Huberdeau wasted no time in breaking Weiss' record, picking up the 250th assist of his career on Mike Hoffman's power play goal that put the Panthers up 1-0 at 2:05 of the first period. Less than a minute later, however, Ryan Strome tied it for the Rangers with a goal that made it 1-1 at 2:39.

Later in the first, Evgenii Dadonov netted Florida's second power-play goal of the game to make it 2-1 at 6:50. But at 8:47, Artemi Panarin evened up the game again with a goal to make it 2-2.

In the second period, Anthony DeAngelo gave New York its first lead with a goal that made it 3-2 at 5:47. But that lead was short lived, as Brett Connolly and Dadonov answered with goals at 7:51 and 17:44, respectively, to put the Panthers up 4-3 heading into the second intermission.

Shutting the door over the final 20 minutes, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 12 of his 30 saves - including more than a few highlight reel stops -- in the third period to help secure the victory for the Panthers, who have won three of their last four and sit at 10-5-5 on the season.

Video: NYR@FLA: Bobrovsky robs DeAngelo with the glove

"It's a huge two points for us, especially at this time," Bobrovsky said. "It's a big win for us."

In beating the Rangers, the Panthers also helped their head coach reach a major milestone.

Earning the 900th win of his career, Joel Quenneville became just the second head coach to hit that storied mark, joining NHL Hall-of-Famer Scotty Bowman, who boasts 1,244 career wins.

A three-time Stanley Cup Champion as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks (2010, 2013, 2015), Quenneville owns a 900-537-142-77 all-time record over 1,656 regular season games.

Bowman was Chicago's senior advisor of hockey operations during Quenneville's Cup wins.

"It's flattering knowing that you're mentioned in the same sentence as Scotty," Quenneville said. "What he's achieved is pretty amazing… It's pretty unbelievable what he's done. We had a great run in Chicago, some fun times there. He's accomplished something that's more than amazing."

When asked about chasing Bowman's record, Quenneville said he's not looking that far ahead.

"We're looking for 901 right now," he grinned.

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

1. AN EARLY STRIKE

How many times have we seen this from Hoffman?

With the Panthers on the power play early in the first period, the 29-year-old took a pass from Keith Yandle, dropped to one knee and blasted a blistering one-timer from the right circle that flew right past Henrik Lundqvist and into the net to make it 1-0 a mere 2:05 after puck drop.

Video: NYR@FLA: Hoffman nets one-timer from circle for PPG

The primary trigger man on Florida's top power-play unit, Hoffman is now tied with Dadonov for the most power-play goals on the team with five, while also ranking fourth in power-play points (8). Currently on a four-game point streak, he has tallied two goals and two assists in that span.

In 20 games this season, Hoffman has notched eight goals and seven assists for 15 points.

2. FROM THE SLOT

Dadonov has been flourishing in his bumper role on the power play this season.

With the game tied 1-1 and the Panthers sent back on the man advantage for a second time early in the first period, the 30-year-old winger set up shop in the slot before taking a pass from Huberdeau and wiring home a one-timer past Lundqvist to put Florida back on top 2-1 at 6:50.

Video: NYR@FLA: Dadonov nets one-timer from slot for PPG

"It was big," Huberdeau said. "Obviously when you give him the puck, he has a great shot."

With Dadonov's goal, Florida also continued its torrid stretch on the power play. Lighting the lamp with the extra attacker in each of the last nine games, the team has gone 11-for-31 (35.5 percent) during that span. Overall, their power play ranks fourth in the league at 26.6 percent.

"The playmaking they make before the shot is pretty special," Quenneville said.

3. CONN THE MONEY

The ping on this goal was so loud you could probably hear it in Miami.

With the Panthers in a 3-2 hole and in desperate need of a goal, Connolly gathered a pass from Brian Boyle and skated into the right circle before ripping a far-side snipe that ricocheted off the right post and into the back of net to make it a 3-3 game at 7:51 of the second period.

Video: NYR@FLA: Connolly rips far-side snap shot home

A huge veteran addition to the team this summer, Connolly, who inked a four-year deal with the Panthers on July 1, has provided plenty of secondary scoring. Cracking the scoresheet in each of the last two games, the 27-year-old winger has recorded seven goals and six assists on the season.

In tonight's win, Connolly also notched two hits and a team-high two takeaways.

4. DADONOV DOUBLES UP

Looking to take the lead late in the second period, the Panthers turned to their hot hand.

Setting up near the bottom of the right circle, Dadonov dropped to one knee and one-timed a gorgeous cross-ice feed from Yandle right past Lundqvist to give Florida a 4-3 lead at 17:44. With that score, which held up as the game-winner, he registered his first multi-goal game of the season.

Video: NYR@FLA: Dadonov nets one-timer for second goal

"One thing about Dads, he's got the puck a little bit," Quenneville said. "He knows where to go to get it. He anticipates where the other guys are going to be as well. He does back off some teams with speed through the middle of the ice… He knows where to go. He doesn't need much time to get [his shot] off. He's good when he has the puck himself, too."

Florida's leader in goals with 10, Dadonov has been chipping in on offense steadily all season long. Possibly the unsung hero of Florida's dynamic top line, he currently ranks tied for third on the team in scoring with 18 points, including six goals and five assists over his last 11 contests.

5. YANDLE ON A TEAR

Yandle's always been known as a defenseman that can produce points.

But even by his standards this recent stretch has been a little ridiculous.

With three assists against the Rangers, the 33-year-old veteran extended his point streak to five games, racking up one goal and nine assists in that span. Using that hot streak to climb up the scoring list, he now leads Florida's defensemen and ranks third on the team with 18 points.

Of those points, 16 are assists, which are the second-most among the league's blueliners.

"When you have the pleasure of playing with guys like Huby, Barky and Daddy, it's obviously one of those things where I'm not scoring goals and they're pretty much doing all the work," Yandle said humbly when asked about his spike in production. "I'm just trying to get it to them."

The quarterback of the team's top power-play unit, Yandle is tied for first on the Panthers and first among the league's defensemen with 11 points on the man advantage so far this season.

"It's not really one thing," Yandle said when asked about the team's success with the extra attacker. "I think we're all taking ownership of doing our job an extra 10-20 percent, whether it's making that crisp pass or shooting it. It's an unselfish group. I think everyone looks to make the pass, but I think we've been doing a good job of shooting pucks and backing teams off."

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