In today's run through history, we'll check out the three times that Florida has played on today's date.
Florida was 0-1, coming off a 3-1 season opening road loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Their opponents, the Pittsburgh Penguins, were sporting a 1-0-1 record, and fresh off a 4-3 road victory over the Carolina Hurricanes the prior night. Florida entered the matchup as owners of a career 5-9-1 regular season mark against the Pens. They had also eliminated Pittsburgh from the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs, in the Eastern Conference Finals, in seven games. The recap, courtesy of Beaver County Times:
The final game summary sheets were circulating in the locker room and goalie Ken Wregget didn't want to look.
"Can I get mine framed?" he wondered as he headed out the door, trying desperately to forget about Saturday's game.
The Florida Panthers scored three goals in the last 2:29 and beat the Penguins 5-3 before 15,352 at the Civic Arena. If you want to blame Wregget for the loss, he won't argue.
"I think I could have been a hell of a lot better to improve our chances tonight," Wregget said.
Dave Gagner got the second of his three goals at 17:31 on a couple of fluky bounces. Gord Murphy banged the puck off the backboards where Gagner corralled it before putting it off defenseman Kevin Hatcher's skate and Wregget's leg.
Wregget's big regret came in the last minute when he had the puck in his glove and chose to drop it and keep it in play. The Panthers made the most of their chance and Bill Lindsay wound up firing in Paul Laus' centering pass for the game-winner.
"I made a bad decision," Wregget said. "I should have frozen it. I made the decision to try to move it up to the wing. I thought I saw a guy."
Gagner's empty-net goal finished a hat trick but Wregget's error in judgement was the key play in another close game where the margin for error is minimal.
Jaromir Jagr got his first goal of the season, his only highlight in a miserable night that saw him finish minus-3.
After a scoreless first period, the Penguins lost two leads on shorthanded goals. The runt line of Martin Straka and the Ferraro brothers put the Penguins ahead at 1:11 of the second when Chris Ferraro scored.
Jody Hull got away with a penalty to even the score. He tripped Fredrik Olausson along the boards, then skated to the net to knock in Kirk Muller's pass.
Jagr scored on a power play at 6:22 of the second but the Penguins gave the goal back just 1:22 later during the same four-minute power play.
Gagner beat Wregget from the left circle for his first goal.
Straka, minus the Ferraros, put Pittsburgh ahead 3-2 at 12:38 of the third when he deflected Olausson's point shot.
John Vanbiesbrouck stopped 27-of-30 shots in earning the Florida victory.
Florida opened their 2001-02 campaign on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers. Florida was at the time 12-21-4 (regular season) through their then eight season history against the Flyers. Florida was coming off a disappointing 22-38-13-9 record the prior season, and as always looking forward to erasing the pain of a substandard season. The recap, as printed in the Boca Raton News:
Justin Williams scored two goals, including the go-ahead score from behind the net, and Jeremy Roenick had a goal and two assis, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-2 victory on Thursday night.
Eric Weinrich and John LeClair also scored, helping Philadelphia win its first game since trading former captain Eric Lindros to the New York Rangers in August. Lindros sat out last season, but his free-agency rights belonged to the Flyers.
Roman Cechmanek picked up where he left off in his strong frst season, making 32 saves.
Kristian Huselius and Viktor Kozlov scored for Florida.
Williams, who also h an assist, gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead 4:21 into the third period when his pass from behind the net went through two defensemen, hit goaltender Trevor Kidd's skate and went between his legs.
LeClair made it 3-1 two minutes later, and Roenick scored a power-play goal midway through the third. Williams added an empty-net goal.
After losing in the first round of the playoffs for the third time in four years, the Flyers made several major moves in the offseason, adding Roenick, resigning LeClair, and trading Lindros.
Weinrich also came to Philadelphia via free agency.
Roenick, who signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract, and Weinrich combined for two goals and four assists.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead midway through the first on a goal by Huselius. Flyers center Keith Primeau lost the puck near center ice. Jason Wiemer then passed it to Huselius, who broke in and slipped it past Cechmanek.
The 2007-08 version of the Panthers opened their season on the road in Madison Square Garden, against the New York Rangers. Florida was coming off a 35-31-16 campaign where they missed the playoffs by six points. They were also the owners of a 21-27-9 all-time record against New York. Florida was also trotting out Nashville Predator refugee Tomas Vokoun for the first time in goal. Recap courtesy of the Associated Press:
NEW YORK (AP) -Third period, tie game. Just call it Chris Drury Time.
With the season opener hanging in the balance, one half of the New York Rangers' prized additions showed just what made him so attractive on the free-agent market.
Drury's first goal in a Rangers uniform snapped a third-period tie Thursday night and sparked a late outburst that carried New York to a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Signed this summer after helping the Buffalo Sabres eliminate the Rangers in the second round of last season's playoffs, Drury put in a rebound of Jaromir Jagr's shot 8:46 into the third period to give New York a 3-2 lead and spark a spurt of three goals in a 4:16 span.
It was his 38th winning goal in the regular season, and 53rd counting the playoffs. But it was the first one the Madison Square Garden crowd enjoyed.
"Same answer I always give: right place at the right time," Drury said.
His goal in the closing seconds of regulation of Game 5 against the Rangers rescued the Sabres in the playoffs.
New York didn't have to wait long to reap the benefits of his arrival.
"Wasn't that nice?" Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "That was the first thing I thought about, 'OK, now it's our turn."'
Petr Prucha, Ryan Callahan and Martin Straka also scored in the third period as the Rangers turned a 2-1 deficit into a rousing victory. Often-booed defenseman Marek Malik assisted on three of the final-period tallies, Jagr set up two, as did Drury who had a helper on Straka's goal with 6:58 left that made it 5-2.
Michal Rozsival gave the Rangers a 1-0 advantage just 37 seconds into the game.
Brett McLean and Nathan Horton scored second-period goals for the Panthers, who seemed to have the game in hand before the late meltdown.
"We have to learn that whatever happens we have to go back after them on the next shift," Panthers captain Olli Jokinen said. "It was a bad couple of minutes."
Tomas Vokoun made 20 saves in his Panthers debut, but didn't make a good first impression. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots for the Rangers, who recorded only nine at the other end through 40 minutes.
"As a goalie when your team struggles for a little bit, you just have to hang in for a few minutes," Lundqvist said.
Drury slid on a knee while pumping his fist after he brought the fans to their feet. Callahan followed with his goal 12 seconds later.
Quite a turnaround after Florida took control in the second.
"It was tough," Vokoun said. "They scored goals to take the game away from us."
The Panthers tied it at 1 just 2:14 into the period when Gregory Campbell put a shot off Lundqvist's left pad after gaining control of the puck behind the net. McLean was in perfect position in front and quickly flipped the rebound past Lundqvist.
It wasn't long before Florida claimed its first lead of the young season.
"In the second period I thought there was only one team on the ice and it wasn't the New York Rangers," Renney said.
Helped by the fact that Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and forward Colton Orr were without sticks, Horton snapped a shot past Lundqvist at 9:47. The goal sparked Horton to dart right for the Panthers bench for celebratory hugs.
By the time the hard-hitting period ended, Florida held a 21-9 shots advantage - including 12-4 in the dominant middle frame - and sent the Rangers off to boos from an already impatient crowd.
It was a short fuse for a team that reached the second round of last season's playoffs, added free agents Drury and Scott Gomez, and took a 1-0 lead in the first minute of the opener for the second straight year.
But by the final minute, the fickle crowd was chanting "We want the Cup!"
"We didn't deserve to hear anything but what we heard," Renney said. "If you do good things they'll embrace you. If you don't, hold onto your hat."
Following Jagr's theatrics of 2006, when he scored 29 seconds into the season against Washington, Rozsival did the same at 37 seconds on the first shot.
Certainly not the start Vokoun wanted in his first game with the Panthers following four seasons of at least 25 wins with Nashville.
Watching this video made me angry.
Panthers @ Rangers 10/4/07 (via NHLVideo)
There you have it. On October 4th, the Panthers have posted a 1-2-0 record. Check back here tomorrow for the next edition of Florida Panthers history.