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Matthew Tkachuk notches hat trick as Panthers best Coyotes

Jan 3, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA;  Florida Panthers center Sam Reinhart (13) battles for possession against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Tkachuk recorded a hat trick and Eric Staal added two goals as the Florida Panthers defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-3 on Tuesday night in Sunrise, Fla.

It was Tkachuk’s first hat trick with the Panthers. Tkachuk, who also had one assist, leads Florida with 20 goals.

Spencer Knight made 33 saves to earn his first win since Dec. 3. He also provided the secondary assist on Tkachuk’s third goal. It was the first point of Knight’s career.

Clayton Keller led Arizona with one goal and one assist. The Coyotes also got goals from former Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad and from defenseman Jakob Chychrun, whose father, Jeff, is a Panthers television analyst.

Arizona goalie Karel Vejmelka made 32 saves.

Florida took a 1-0 lead just 69 seconds into the game on a play that started with Vejmelka’s stop of a Gustav Forsling shot. Aleksander Barkov slid the rebound to his right, and Tkachuk fired on the open side of the net.

The Panthers took a 2-0 lead with 11:21 expired in the first. On the play, Staal grabbed the rebound of his brother Marc’s shot, circled and scored from the lower part of the right circle.

Arizona got on the board with just three seconds left in the first as Keller slid a pass that barely avoided the stick of Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas and instead became a power-play tap-in for Chychrun.

The Coyotes tied the score with 14:43 left in the second on a great individual effort by Keller, who skated around Florida’s defense from left to right. Moving laterally, he lifted a 25-foot backhander in off the left post.

Florida, however, scored three of the next four goals to take a 5-3 lead into the third.

That spurt started with Tkachuk’s second goal, which came after a pass from Josh Mahura. Tkachuk had time to wait a second before firing the puck in off Vejmelka’s helmet.

Arizona tied the score, 3-3, on Bjugstad’s deflection of a J.J. Moser shot.

Just 2:02 later, Florida took the lead for good as Eric Staal scored on a quick-release shot from the slot, beating Vejmelka’s stick. Ryan Lomberg provided the primary assist.

With just 31 seconds left in the second, Tkachuk scored on the power play, taking a Sam Reinhart pass before scoring on his own rebound.

–Field Level Media