Bennett scores 2, Panthers end skid with 5-1 victory over Vancouver Canucks

Sam Bennett scored twice and the Florida Panthers ended a three-game skid on Thursday with a 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

Matthew Tkachuk added a goal and a pair of assists, while Gustav Forsling, Ryan Lomberg and Sam Bennett all scored for the Panthers (11-9-4). Spencer Knight made 31 saves.

Dakota Joshua had the lone goal for the Canucks (9-12-3), who lost their second game in a row.

Vancouver also lost starting goalkeeper Thatcher Demko on Thursday. The 26-year-old American stopped 15 of 18 shots in the first period before leaving the game with a lower body injury.

He was replaced by Spencer Martin, who made 13 saves.

During the closing seconds of the game, there was a bit of boos from the audience in the Rogers Arena. The booing grew louder after the final whistle.

An ugly giveaway by Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes sealed the score midway through the third period.

The defender spun the puck past the boards deep into Canucks territory, leaving Tkachuk and Bennett unmanned. Martin dove to stop Bennett’s ensuing wrist shot, but the puck sailed past him and the Panthers took a 5–1 lead 11:11 into the frame.

Vancouver got on the board at 12:26 in the second period. The Canucks won a faceoff in the defensive zone and Joshua charged across the ice in a two-for-one, then sailed past Knight with a quick wrist shot to make it 4-1.

Forty-eight seconds earlier, a slick pass led to a goal on the other side of the ice. Carter Verhaeghe and Tkachuk dished the puck back and forth across the slot before cutting it to Bennett, who was stationed behind the door for an easy tap.

Florida took a big lead into the first break on a 59-second attack burst late in the frame.

Tkachuk opened the scoring with 18:14 in the first inning and shot in from the end with a backhand for his 11th goal of the season.

Twenty-five seconds later, former Canuck Forsling scored with a one-timer through traffic to put the Panthers up 2-0. Sam Reinhart contributed an assist to the game to extend his point streak to five games.

Seconds later, Florida was on the attack again, firing shots at Vancouver’s net. Demko stopped a shot from Patric Hornqvist, then grabbed his right leg as Lomberg slammed in the rebound to give the visitors a 3–0 lead.

The keeper remained in the fold while a trainer came out to check on him. Demko left the ice with the help of trainer and teammate Ilya Mikheyev, not putting any weight on his right leg.

The Canucks later tweeted that he would not return to the game.

POWER PLAY BATTLE

The Canucks went 0-for-3 with the man advantage and the Panthers went 0-for-2. Vancouver failed to score a power play goal in its last three appearances.

Mr. 900

Hornqvist played his 900th NHL regular season game. He played over 15 seasons for the Nashville Predators, Penguins and Panthers, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017.

LEGENDS RECOGNIZED

The Canucks held a pre-game ceremony to honor three former players who were recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Former goalkeeper Roberto Luongo and forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin all lined up in midfield and watched career video highlights before participating in a ceremonial puckdrop.

NEXT ONE

The Canucks will continue with a four-game homestand on Saturday when they host the Arizona Coyotes. The Panthers face the Kraken in Seattle the same night.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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