Saarela's first NHL goal helps Panthers top Ducks 4-1

Saarela's first NHL goal helps Panthers top Ducks 4-1
Florida Panthers center Aleksi Saarela, left, and Anaheim Ducks left wing Nick Ritchie vie for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Florida Panthers showed a little rebounding prowess Wednesday, getting a pair of friendly bounces off the Honda Center end boards to deliver a key 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

Vincent Trocheck and Aleksi Saarela each scored second-period goals off fortuitous rebounds and the Panthers were able to rally from an early deficit.

Aleksander Barkov and MacKenzie Weegar also scored a goal for Florida, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves as the Panthers improved to 2-0 on a key five-game West Coast road trip.

Florida won consecutive games in California with another at Los Angeles on Thursday. The Panthers earned a 5-3 victory at San Jose on Monday.

Max Jones scored a goal, while John Gibson had 28 saves for the Ducks, who dropped the opener of a six-game homestand. The Ducks have lost three of their past four games and have lost three consecutive home games.

Jones gave the Ducks the early lead with a goal at 16:04 of the first period. His 10th of the season came unassisted when he raced across the blue line, picked up a loose puck and fired it off the left shoulder of Bobrovsky and inside the right post.

The Ducks appeared as if they would take the lead into the first intermission, but Jonathan Huberdeau fired a perfect pass to Barkov as he rushed to the front of the Ducks goal and he flipped the puck past Gibson with 2.2 seconds on the clock to tie the score 1-1. It was Barkov’s 18th of the season.

The Panthers took a 2-1 lead at 10:50 of the second period when Trocheck cashed in a break. Riley Stillman’s shot past the goal, deflected off the end boards and back over the Ducks’ goal and to Trocheck where he picked it out of the air with a waist-high swing to score his 10th.

The Panthers received another deflection off the end boards less than four minutes later when Aaron Ekblad’s wide shot rebounded around the goal and into the left circle where Saarela scored from a sharp angle. It was Saarela’s first career goal in his fourth NHL game.

Weegar’s fifth of the season was scored into an empty net with just over two minutes remaining.

NOTES:

Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, who did participate in morning skate, was a late scratch with a lower body injury. … Anaheim was kicking off a six-game homestand. … Barkov now has eight points (four goals) over his past 11 games for the Panthers. … Mike Hoffman had a goal taken away at 13:10 of the first period for the Panthers when Mark Pysyk was ruled offsides after a successful replay challenge from the Ducks. … The Panthers improved to 7-1-1 on the road against Western Conference teams.

UP NEXT

Panthers: At Los Angeles on Thursday to face the Kings.

Ducks: Home against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.