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Late goal at St. Louis seals Florida Panthers' 5-0 trip

By Rob Rains, The Sports Xchange
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Florida Panthers Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic waits for the drop of the puck to start a game against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on February 20, 2017. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Florida Panthers Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic waits for the drop of the puck to start a game against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on February 20, 2017. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ST. LOUIS -- The Florida Panthers went to overtime 20 times in their first 57 games this season, and in the closing seconds of the third period Monday night, it certainly appeared they were headed there again.

Vincent Trocheck made certain that didn't happen.

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The Florida center got a shot through traffic that Blues goalie Jake Allen never saw with just 4.6 seconds remaining in regulation, lifting the Panthers to a 2-1 victory over St. Louis.

The win completed the first 5-0-0 road trip for the Panthers in franchise history and was their eighth win in the past nine games.

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"It was strong cycling down low," Trocheck said of the final play. "They threw it out top to me, I had a lane. I don't think Allen saw it. I just kind of did the easy work and stayed up top while everybody else kind of grinded it out."

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Trocheck's 21st goal of the season came after the Panthers were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone for more than 30 seconds as the Blues were not able to clear the puck down the ice and get the game to overtime.

"Terrible finish," Allen said. "We had 30 seconds left to salvage a point in a game that we played not good. Those are huge points right now. Could have ended up with two points, and it slipped away."

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The biggest reason for that was the Blues' inability to get the puck out of their zone in the closing seconds.

"There were opportunities to jump on loose pucks, there were opportunities to kill the play, and that didn't happen," St. Louis coach Mike Yeo said.

The loss came in the final game for the Blues before the league-mandated break in their schedule, with their next game not coming until Sunday night.

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"We should have a bad taste in our mouth for a couple days," Yeo said. "We've got this break now, and what I hope happens is we take some time to think about our situation as far as finishing off the season and the situation that we're in."

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Allen took the loss hard, as did his teammates.

"They had a lot of pressure on us in the last minute, and we've got to find ways to get the puck out and we didn't," Blues right winger Scottie Upshall said. "Those games are big. They definitely sting."

The Panthers, like the Blues fighting for a playoff spot, took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Jonathan Marchessault midway through the first period. The Blues tied it on a goal by Kyle Brodziak 2:54 into the third period.

The Blues failed to use their initial goal to change the momentum in the game, however, letting the Panthers continue to dictate the play as they had for most of the first two periods. St. Louis had only three shots on goal in the second period.

"We stayed with our game, we stayed positive, we stayed aggressive, and we're able to get that goal late," Trocheck said.

Panthers goalie James Reimer stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced. Allen made 31 saves for the Blues, who fell to 7-3-0 since Yeo replaced Ken Hitchcock as the head coach on Feb. 1.

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Florida also made a coaching change earlier this season, then saw positive results.

"It's a great group of players and everybody deserves it," said Panthers interim coach and general manager Tom Rowe. "It's been a long season, it's been a hard season and now everything is coming together, but again, we've got a long way to go. It's going to be a dog fight until the end of the season."

NOTES: The Blues activated C Paul Stastny off injured reserve before the game, and he had an even rating in 18:41 of ice time. He missed the previous four games because of a lower-body injury. ... Blues LW Alexander Steen played in his 800th career game. ... Eight players on the Blues' roster were not born when Panthers RW Jaromir Jagr played his first game in the NHL on Oct. 5, 1990. Jagr, at 45, is even two years older than Blues coach Mike Yeo. ... The Panthers return home to host the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night. The Blues' next game will be Sunday night against the Blackhawks in Chicago.

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