SUNRISE, 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, 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, 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.
Penguins: Host New Jersey on Tuesday night.
Panthers: Host Toronto on Tuesday night.
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