SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)Matthew Tkachuk recorded his first hat trick as a member of the Florida Panthers as he helped lead his team to a 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.
Tkachuk was acquired over the summer in a trade in which Calgary received Florida stars Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar in return. His third goal added to his team lead with 20.
Florida also got a pair of goals from Eric Staal and 33 saves from Spencer Knight to end a two-game skid.
”We needed these two points more than anything because we’re not in the world’s greatest position,” Tkachuk said. ”We may not have had our best stuff, but we answered their goals. The guys were working, and it was good to see.”
The Coyotes, which fell behind 2-0 but tied the score twice in the second period, had goals from Jakob Chychrun, Clayton Keller and Nick Bjugstad.
Karel Vejmelka made 32 stops as Arizona lost a second consecutive game.
Tkachuk got the Panthers started 1:09 into the game by knocking in a puck from close range. Just over 10 minutes later, Staal made it 2-0.
The first goal from Arizona came on a power play with 2.1 seconds remaining in the opening period from Chychrun.
Keller tied it at 2 at 5:17 of the second with a terrific backhanded shot that sliced through traffic.
Florida and Arizona traded goals (Tkachuk and Bjugstad) before Staal gave the Panthers a lead at 4-3 they would not give up at 16:01 of the second.
”We knew how good they actually were,” Bjugstad said. ”We knew we had to come with a good foot forward. We had enough juice but need to clean some things up. But that is a good team which was hungry and hungrier than us tonight.”
Tkachuk’s third goal came on the power play as he followed up his own rebound, putting a loose puck past Vejmelka with 31 seconds left in the period.
”We had some good offensive finish,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said, ”and when they tied the score in the second, we got better. We gave them two goals but did not break at that point. You have to be careful with how you measure yourself in a negative way when it comes to (Arizona): They just beat Colorado, L.A. and put up six on Toronto. We hit them at their peak on two days rest. It was a good win.”
NOTES: Of the five skaters in the Arizona starting lineup Tuesday night, four had ties to the South Florida area. Bjugstad and Lawson Crouse once played for the Panthers; Chychrun and Shayne Gostisbehere grew up in South Florida and played for the Jr. Panthers in their younger years. Chychrun’s father Jeff worked the game as a member of the Panthers’ television broadcast team. . Liam O’Brien and Matias Maccelli remained out of the Arizona lineup due to injury with Zack Kassian being a healthy scratch. Florida scratched Matt Kiersted and Zac Dalpe. . Knight recorded his first NHL point by getting the secondary assist on Tkachuk’s third goal Tuesday. . The hat trick from Tkachuk was the second for the Panthers in their past four games with Aleksander Barkov getting one against Montreal on Dec. 29.
Coyotes: At Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Panthers: At Detroit on Friday night.
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