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, Fla. (AP) The Florida Panthers cut it close –
again.Evgenii Dadonov scored with 1:53 to play to complete a hat trick and give
the Panthers a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday
night.Dadonov beat goalie Matt Murray on a one-timer off Aleksander Barkov’s
pass for the winner.”The old saying, your best players got to be your best
players in games like this. He definitely was,” Florida coach Bob Boughner said.
”He looked like he had it early. He has some great patience with the puck. It
was a big goal at the end of the game, and he delivered.”Dadonov has 18 goals
this season.The Panthers beat Washington 3-2 on Thursday on Vincent Trocheck’s
goal with 20 seconds to play.The winner Saturday came after Pittsburgh, playing
on the second night of back-to-back contests, rallied to erase a 5-3 deficit in
the third.”We scored six goals. I guess you can’t lose it if you score six.
You’re not supposed to. It was a tough game today,” Dadonov said.Trocheck, Jamie
McGinn and Derek MacKenzie also scored. Barkov had three assists, Keith Yandle
and Alexander Petrovic added two assists, and Roberto Luongo made 24 saves.”He’s
an elite goal scorer in this league and in this world,” Barkov said about
Dadonov. ”He was scoring a lot of goals in Russia and it was just a matter of
time when the puck starts going.”Evgeni Malkin had two goals and an assist for
the Penguins, and Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust added goals.
Tristan Jarry made 13 saves for Pittsburgh before he was replaced in the second
period. Murray had 11 saves in relief.Trocheck finished a 2-on-1 cross-ice pass
from Denis Malgin after a breakout pass from Yandle early in the first period.
Trocheck tapped in the pass at 3:44 for his team-leading 24th goal.The Penguins
tied it when Hagelin tallied from the low slot, scoring his eighth goal at
12:40.Florida regained the lead with 39 seconds left when Dadonov collected a
loose puck along the boards Alex
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, beat Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin into
the slot and whipped his 16th goal high on Jarry’s glove side.McGinn took a
diagonal pass from Jared McCann, pushing in his eighth goal at 2:07 of the
second.MacKenzie finished off a rebound at 8:12 for his third goal and a 4-1
Florida lead.The Penguins then replaced Jarry with Murray, who beat Carolina the
night before.”Again, we had the same mistake, like a 2-on-1. They have 3-on-2s
and 2-on-1s. If we played right, we’d win easily, I think,” Malkin said.The
Russian center scored a pair of goal to lead the comeback and now has 38 points
in his last 21 games, including 22 goals.Malkin chipped in a pass from Rust at
13:10, and scored again 46 seconds into the third period by roofing a shot over
Luongo.Dadonov answered 58 seconds later when he one-timed a pass from Barkov
for a 5-3 lead.Hornqvist scored a power-play goal – his 17th – and Rust added
his 10th just 49 seconds apart to tie it at 5 at 15:10.Pittsburgh coach Mike
Sullivan said the team has to be more responsible defensively, citing the
game-winning goal as an example.”We have to become a team that has a conscience
defensively away from the puck,” Sullivan said of the Penguins, who are now
16-4-1 in their last 21 games.”We’ve got to limit not only the quantity but the
quality of the chances of our opponent each and every night if we’re going to
give ourselves a chance to win.”NOTES: The Penguins scratched D Chad Ruhwedel
and C Derick Brassard. … Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said Brassard, whom the
club acquired Friday from Ottawa in a deal that included D Ian Cole Braden
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, is having visa difficulties and ”we’ll get him here
as soon as possible.” Added Sullivan: ”Colesy was a very good player for us. He
was a good defender, penalty killer, shot blocker and was hard in front of our
net. He brought a lot of things to our defense.” … Florida scratched LW Connor
Brickley, RW Radim Vrbata and D Mackenzie Weegar. … Trocheck’s first-period goal
was his sixth in the last seven games, while Dadonov now has seven in his last
seven. Malgin left the game in the third period and did not return.UP
NEXTPenguins: Host New Jersey on Tuesday night.Panthers: Host Toronto on Tuesday
night. WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves to tie the record
for victories in a season by an American goalie and the Winnipeg Jets beat the
Calgary Flames 2-1 on Thursday night for their fourth straight
victory.Hellebuyck has 43 victories to match the mark set by former Pittsburgh
star Tom Barrasso in 1992-93. The Michigan native expected to be in goal
Saturday at home against Chicago in the regular-season finale.”Yes, because
we’re tied, right, with Tom Barrasso? We need one more (win),” Hellebuyck
said.Blake Wheeler scored his 23rd goal for his 90th point of the season, and
Paul Stastny added a goal to help Winnipeg improve to 10-1-0 in its past 11 and
51-20-10 overall.”What an accomplishment for him,” Wheeler said about
Hellebuyck. ”Things like that don’t happen every year so you need to enjoy them
when they do happen. Really happy for him. I’m sure he’s proud of himself.
Hopefully, he’ll win one more if he plays (on Saturday) and that’d be a pretty
cool thing to have for him.”Rookie Spencer Foo scored his first NHL goal in his
third game for the Flames.”Just went to the net hard there and had it go off my
foot,” Foo said. ”Feels good. I’ll take it.”Winnipeg will play the Minnesota
Wild in the first round of the NHL playoffs after Nashville beat Washington 4-3
earlier Thursday to clinch top spot in the Central Division and Western
Conference with 115 points.”We got to get through one more and then we’ll start
to zero in on Minnesota Youth
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,” Wheeler said.Jon Gillies stopped 24 shots
for Calgary. The Flames are 1-9-0 in their past 10 games.”I thought Jon Gilles
played a good game tonight,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. ”He looked a
little nervous early, but really settled into the game and made some big saves
off some big players.”Wheeler scored with 47 seconds left in the first, tipping
Dustin Byfuglien’s shot from the pointWheeler, who has five goals and 14 points
in his past 11 games, became the fourth player in franchise history to hit the
90-point mark, and first since Ilya Kovalchuk in 2008-09. His previous career
high was 78 points two years ago.Jets rookie Kyle Connor assisted on Wheeler’s
goal, giving him 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in his past 12 games.Ben
Chiarot made a patient play to set up Stastny’s goal, waiting for the veteran to
cut toward the net and then sending a pass to his stick for the redirection and
2-0 lead at 12:59.UP NEXT:Flames: Host Vegas on Saturday night in the
finale.Jets: Host Chicago on Saturday night to wrap up the regular season.
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