|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, January 21, 2019
BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida Attendance: 14,014
Trocheck's return powers Panthers into game vs. Sharks
The Florida Panthers surge toward the All-Star break knowing that the Vincent Trocheck Factor has returned in full force.
The Panthers trek home from a successful trip to Nashville to close out the unofficial first half of the season with Monday night's contest against the San Jose Sharks at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
The 25-year-old Trocheck returned to the lineup in Friday's 3-1 home win over Toronto. His resurgence came after breaking his right ankle two months ago in Ottawa, undergoing surgery, rehabbing diligently and bringing back his emotion, grit and relentless game against the Atlantic Division rival Maple Leafs.
The early returns have been outstanding, especially considering the nasty extent of the injury.
Centering a second line with wingers Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, Trocheck notched the primary assist on Michael Matheson's game-winning goal against the Maple Leafs, slipping a pass back to the defenseman.
Trocheck then added a nifty breakaway goal and an assist in the 4-2 victory in Nashville as Florida won for the second time in two nights after suffering seven consecutive defeats.
Equally important, he was able to supplant Panthers star center Aleksander Barkov when the visitors went on the penalty kill after Nashville had scored two quick goals and gained momentum to make it 3-2 in the third period.
"You see how many times I used Troch in the defensive-zone faceoffs, especially at the end in the 6-on-5. I think he won three or four in a row. That's big. You can only play Barky so much in those situations," said Florida coach Bob Boughner.
"We're a more complete team. Troch is our engine, and you can see by his effort how much it means to this team."
The Sharks have injury concerns around standout defenseman Erik Karlsson, who was acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Sept. 13 a month before the season opened.
The media had noticed Larsson limping and favoring his left side earlier in the day in Tampa, and the two-time Norris Trophy winner left the ice during warm-ups and was replaced in the lineup by Joakim Ryan before San Jose was routed 6-3 by the Lightning.
Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos tallied two goals and an assist as an opposing team finally solved Sharks goalie Martin Jones, who stopped just 20 of 26 shots. Jones (22-9-4) entered the game riding an eight-game win streak, tying his career high.
The Western Conference club won seven in a row -- five at home at SAP Center, the site of Saturday's All-Star Game -- but was ineffective defensively in a pair of 6-3 losses at Arizona and Tampa Bay to open its four-game road swing.
The Sharks will finish their road trip with the second game of the back-to-back against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. With the backline corps showing leaks, attention has turned to Karlsson's ailment and the elite defender's status.
Coach Peter DeBoer said he would not rest Karlsson against the Panthers simply because San Jose is nearing the All-Star break.
"We're not going to risk anything with him, obviously," DeBoer said. "If he can play without risking long-term injury, then we will (play him), but we're not going to rest him just to rest him."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 20, 2019