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Tkachuk scores hat trick to help Panthers beat Blues for eighth straight win


ST. LOUIS (AP) — Matthew Tkachuk scored his fifth career hat trick to help the Florida Panthers beat the St. Louis Blues 5-1 on Tuesday night for their eighth straight victory.

Sam Reinhart and Kevin Stenlund also scored for the Panthers, who have 36 goals during their winning streak. Anthony Stolarz made 29 saves.

“I don't think any of it was easy for us,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “We had no legs, so we had to make a whole bunch of mental adjustments as the game went. Part of it was just what it's going to look like. I'm really happy with this win as much as any win we've had on this trip, for sure."

Brayden Schenn scored and Joel Hofer made 26 saves for St. Louis, which had won two in a row.

“I actually feel like we deserved better offensively," Schenn said. "We had some looks, the power play had some looks and the goalie made some saves. But then in saying that, third period, I don’t think we were assertive enough and hungry enough to play in their end more and it just resulted in them spending time on our own end and getting deflections and goals and before we know it, the game’s out of reach.”

Tkachuk scored into an empty net for his 11th goal of the season with 57 seconds left to complete his hat trick. Tkachuk's father, Keith, played for the Blues from 2001-10.

“It felt amazing," Matthew Tkachuk said. "I scored a lot of goals in this rink when I was younger, (but) I haven’t scored much at the NHL level, so I’m glad I was saving them up for tonight.”

Tkachuk scored on one knee to give Florida a 3-1 lead 2:18 into the third period and got his second goal of the game 3:39 later to make it 4-1. He has six goals in the Panthers’ last four games after scoring only five in the first 36 games of the season.

“He’s been on a run for a while,” Maurice said. “I think, probably the last three weeks, you have seen the game change where, I don’t want to say pucks aren’t going in, he’s just getting a different look. It’s different around the net for him. He never changed his game over that course of time. He’s committed to what the team needs to do to win. That’s why I was never really worried about it.”

Reinhart scored his team-leading 29th goal on a power play 1:11 into the second period to give Florida a 2-1 advantage.

It was Reinhart's 14th power-play goal of the season. St. Louis failed to convert on its three power plays and has scored on just 12 of 112 this season.

“We have to score,” interim coach Drew Bannister said. "We have to have a mindset when we step on the ice that we're looking to score goals. The chances have been there. The opportunities have been there, but we aren't finishing on those chances, and we have to finish."

Stenlund tied it 1-all when he scored his eighth goal on a feed from Jonah Gadjovich with 4:04 remaining in the first period.

Schenn got his ninth goal when he lifted Jake Neighbours’ rebound over Stolarz 3:24 into the first. Schenn hadn’t scored in 16 games since netting a pair of goals against Buffalo on Nov. 30.


Panthers: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night to open a five-game homestand.

Blues: Host the New York Rangers on Thursday night.