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Tokachuk happy to help the Panthers win their debut game against the Islanders

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Elmont, New York — Matthew Takachuk Built to play in playoff-style tough, physical, low-scoring games that are won in battle areas along the walls and in front of the net.

Maybe so will the Florida Panthers this season.

“That was a playoff win,” Tkachuk told after scoring in his Panthers debut. 3-1 win over New York Islanders at UBS Arena on Thursday.

It was the first of 82 games in the regular season, so perspective is important, but Tkachuk is right about how the Panthers won. It didn’t look like many.

Florida led 2-1 late in the third period last season and won two games against the Islanders. A Tkachuk goal with 1:15 left made it 3-1. He scored a goal from his 80-foot distance and entered an empty net.

“I loved everything,” said Panthers first-year coach Paul Morris.

Tkachuk’s goal came on his 4th shot and 16th shot attempt. His first two attempts were shots between the legs from the front of the net, both on the first shift during the Panthers’ power plays early in the first period.

He felt it from the puck drop to the final buzzer.

“Pac found me early, which made it easier, but I’m surrounded by more talent than anyone could have imagined,” Tokachuk said.

VIDEO: Hornqvist and Tkachuk Lead Panthers to 3-1 Road Victory

This is from a player who scored 104 points for the Calgary Flames last season and played arguably the best line in the NHL. Johnny Gaudreau When Elias LindholmAll three players scored at least 40 goals (Tkachuk and Lindholm each with 42 and Gaudreau with 40).

“Obviously, they’re incredible, top NHL players,” Tkachuk said of Gaudreau and Lindholm. “But just like last year, we’re surrounded by great players here.”

Calgary traded then-restricted free agent Tokachuk to the Panthers for a forward on July 22. Jonathan Huberdeau defense man Mackenzie Wieger.

It was the NHL’s biggest offseason trade and a game-changer for Tkachuk. Tkachuk said that since arriving in Florida late in the offseason, he’s been able to feel as comfortable as he did when he made his debut with the Panthers.

“The team members are incredible people. We’ve already accomplished a lot together on and off the ice,” said Tkachuk. “Everyone, the entire organization, from management to players, coaches and trainers, they made me feel at home. I truly feel like I’ve been playing with them for 10 years. It’s pretty unbelievable that it happened..This is the best decision for me.Whether I win or lose, I can tell you how happy I am.

After this, I took a picture with the center with a big smile on my face Alexander Barkovgoalie Sergey Bobrovsky The puck he scored in the dressing room after the game.

The Panthers were also full of excitement, dancing to the music blaring in the room reporters were allowed into. Because they know they have a better chance if they get this win and play more similar games in the regular season. Finally won the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Florida were the highest scoring team in the NHL last season (4.10 goals per game) and their offense was so good that they developed a habit of scoring more than they had to deal with, leading to an NHL best-29 comeback victory. I got it.

But their lack of structure and ability to win the type of game they played Thursday burned the Panthers in the playoffs, scoring two goals or less six times in 10 games in the conference second round.

The Presidents’ Trophy winning team knocked out with three goals in the second round sweep.

“The idea is that you have to have fun with this kind of game,” Maurice said. “The regular season is not fun, especially if you’re used to scoring five or six goals in one night, but it looks exactly like a playoff game. It’s going to be a grinder.” don’t you’ll pay for it all this hard stuff just added to our game we still think we can go from rush to dynamic but this You have to learn how to handle ‘a kind of game. ”

Unsurprisingly, Maurice’s main focus throughout training camp and preseason was learning how to play in structure and win low-scoring games.

“That’s all we really talked about,” he said.

They were thrilled to have their first game away against the Islanders.

“They’re as hard defensively as you’ll see in the NHL, and they don’t give you anything, so we’ve framed the game in such a way that this is the best possible opponent for us. It will be frustrating,” Maurice said.

Instead, the Panthers got better as the game went on. After allowing 16 in the first 20 minutes, he allowed 17 in the final 40 minutes.

They scored a goal in the second period to lead 1-0 with high-low play. Goals of the type Maurice said need to become a big part of their identity.

They did not allow the Islanders to equalize and scored 30 seconds later to take a 2–1 lead at 3:43 in the third.

The clamps then dropped and Tkachuk was late providing insurance.

“It’s a hard-earned victory,” said Tokachuk. “It’s been hard to win first in the beginning of the year and the building is shaking, but I thought we had a very solid road game.”