LAS VEGAS (AP) — Hours after being named to the All-Star roster, Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist and the Florida Panthers defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 on Thursday night.
The Panthers won for the sixth straight time, while goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves to win his fifth consecutive start.
Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe also registered a goal and an assist, while Sam Bennett added a goal.
The Golden Knights’ lone All-Star, Jack Eichel, was held off the score sheet despite a better start in the first 10 minutes of the game..
The Panthers completed a season sweep of the defending champs, not only exacting revenge for last season’s five-game loss in the Stanley Cup Final, but also winning in Vegas for the first time since the Knights joined the NHL.
“I think maybe we needed a little adversity to really dig down and find a way,” Tkachuk said. “We had 20-plus guys that were just completely dialed in from the start of the day today and wanted to get that job done. There’s no secret we don’t like these guys for what happened last year. That’s human nature. Especially coming into this building where a team has not had success as of late and just really wanting to beat a team that kind of ruined our summer last year. I thought in the two games that we played them have been two of our best of the season.”
Which is saying something considering the Panthers lost a pair of key forwards — Evan Rodrigues to a lower-body injury and captain Aleksander Barkov to an upper-body injury — after one period.
Florida’s special teams proved to be the difference, finishing 3 of 6 with a man advantage and going in a perfect 6 for 6 on the penalty kill.
“It’s just the mindset of our team, just playing as hard as you can for the guy next to you, especially down two forwards, it was a big performance from all 10 of us that were able to pull through,” Tkachuk added.
Pavel Dorofeyev scored for Vegas, which has lost six of its last seven.
Knights goaltender Logan Thompson made 32 saves but continues to struggle for wins, as he’s lost three of his last four starts and 11 of 17 after opening the season 5-0. Thompson has now allowed three or more goals in six of his last eight starts.
“Tonight we weren’t a great team defensively, some net-front goals against, we got to take care of those,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “The lack of winning affects everybody, goaltender more so than most, because he’s the last line of defense. But I think everyone could start to lose some confidence or question things when you don’t win.”
Thompson’s confidence might have been boosted early after captain Mark Stone’s initial shot was blocked but Dorofeyev was there to slam the rebound into an open net. It was the start Vegas needed to shake off Monday’s shutout loss at Seattle in the Winter Classic, as it dominated the action over the first eight minutes of the game.
But a penalty on William Carrier shifted momentum to Florida when Bennett one-timed a rebound off the end boards for the Panthers’ first power-play goal of the night.
They’d get another midway through the second when Tkachuk’s redirect off Brandon Montour’s shot from the point slipped past Thompson.
Verhaeghe silenced the crowd with a little more than a minute left in the period when he pounced on a loose rebound to the left of Thompson and notched his 20th of the season.
Reinhart scored his 25th goal of the season on a power play in the third when he one-timed a pass from Tkachuk from the slot to provide the final margin.
Panthers: Visit Colorado on Saturday
Golden Knights: Host the Islanders on Saturday