BROOKLYN (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – There have been some signs that things could be turning around for the Florida Panthers.
Vincent Trocheck’s recent offensive tear has inched the Panthers closer toward a potential wild-card spot while the 23-year-old’s consistent play this season helped him earn his first career selection for the NHL All-Star Game.
With four goals and as many assists in his last seven games, Trocheck looks to continue his torrid play on Wednesday when the Panthers visit the New York Islanders.
Trocheck scored his team high-tying 12th goal in Monday’s 3-0 shutout of New Jersey and had an assist in Florida’s 3-2 overtime victory over New York on Nov. 12.
Veteran Roberto Luongo made 19 saves to pick up the win against the team that drafted him fourth overall in 1997 and turned aside all 28 shots he faced versus the Devils for his 448th career victory, passing Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk for sole possession of fifth place all-time in NHL history.
While the Panthers have won three of five and secured at least a point in six of their last eight (3-2-3), the cellar-dwelling Islanders have slowed their momentum after winning four of five by dropping two straight past regulation.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk celebrated his 500th career game by extending his point streak to three games (one goal, two assist) after setting up Alan Quine’s goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to Arizona on Saturday.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, MSG-Plus (New York)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (18-16-8): Reilly Smith’s return from a concussion could provide a significant jolt to the team’s 23rd-ranked power play, which had failed to convert in 2017 until the 25-year-old cleaned up a rebound to open the scoring on Monday.
A team-leading five of Smith’s eight goals have come with the man advantage this season for a Florida club that is mustering just 2.3 goals per game (26th in league).
Jaromir Jagr (NHL second-best 756 goals) hasn’t had that problem throughout his decorated career and the 44-year-old told NorthJersey.com that he has more in the tank.
“I go to 55,” Jagr said, adding five years to his initial timeline of 50. “I just changed. Fifty-five. I feel good so I go to 55.”
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (15-15-8): Captain John Tavares was selected to his fourth All-Star Game on Tuesday despite being on pace for one of his worst statistical seasons.
“For myself, I know that I have not been to the level that I expect of myself and the standard that I want to be at,” Tavares told Newsday on the heels of scoring just two goals in his last 11 games. “(I) keep trying to improve and get better. I need to be counted on more, to be more of a difference-maker.”
The former top overall pick leads the Islanders with just 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) and resides two shy of 500 for his career.
- New York G Thomas Greiss owns a 3-0-2 mark in his last five games overall and a 6-3-0 record at home this season.
- Florida rookie C Denis Malgin, who scored in overtime in the teams’ first meeting, is questionable to compete Wednesday after sustaining an upper-body injury versus the Devils.
- Hockey Hall of Famer Jiggs McDonald will call Wednesday’s game on MSG-Plus as part of the network’s celebration of his 50 years as an NHL play-by-play broadcaster.
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