By Paul Gereffi
The Associated Press
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers’ top line keeps carrying the team.
Aleksander Barkov scored two goals, Jonathan Huberdeau had three assists, and Evgenii Dadonov added two assists as the Panthers beat the Coyotes 4-2 Thursday night.
Mike Hoffman and MacKenzie Weegar also scored for the Panthers, who won for the first time in three games.
In the past eight games, Barkov and Huberdeau have combined for 36 points.
“That top line is getting it done on a nightly basis and carrying us offensively,” coach Bob Boughner said.
Roberto Luongo made 32 saves and broke a five-game losing streak, making his first start in seven games.
“Rested. I felt I had good energy,” Luongo said. “Got a lot of shots early and was able to get in the game. Got a good feel. It carried me the rest of the way.”
Brad Richardson and Michael Grabner scored for the Coyotes, who lost their third straight. Darcy Kuemper stopped 18 shots. The Coyotes remain one point ahead of idle Minnesota for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
“We were sloppy. I think we were trying, but we were just sloppy,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “I know pressure is hitting this team, but you have to be prepared.”
Trailing 3-1, Arizona closed to 3-2 when Richardson’s shot from the point got through traffic and past Luongo with 2:24 left in the third.
Barkov’s second goal, an empty-netter with 50 seconds left, made it 4-2.
Hoffman broke a 1-1 tie with his power-play goal at 10:55 of the second. Hoffman beat Kuemper with a shot from the right circle.
Weegar stretched the Panthers’ lead to 3-1 when his shot from the high slot went over Kuemper’s glove at 5:09 of the third.
Weegar had a potential second goal overturned with 9:07 left in the third when Arizona challenged the goal and it was ruled that Barkov interfered with Kuemper.
Grabner made the score 1-0 with a short-handed goal at 7:45 of the first. Grabner grabbed the puck from Huberdeau near the blue line and beat Luongo on a breakaway. The Coyotes set a franchise record with 16 short-handed goals this season.
The Panthers tied the score at 1-all when Barkov’s shot from the slot beat Kuemper on the stick side with 14.6 left in the first. Barkov extended his points streak to eight games.
“We did have a lead, but then we kind of messed up there,” Richardson said. “We got caught watching a little bit and you get a guy like Barkov. That guy, he’s going to make a play and he did.”
The Panthers have two 80-point players for the first time in franchise history IN Barkov (87) and Huberdeau (82). … Keith Yandle’s second assist on the Hoffman goal set a Florida franchise record for points in a season by a defenseman (58). … C Jayce Hawryluk returned after missing three games with a lower-body injury. … Coyotes D Jason Demers played his 600th NHL game. … UFC stars Yoel Romero and Jacare Souza dropped the ceremonial puck before the game.
Coyotes: Visit the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
Panthers: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.