Florida has played seven games on October 6th. Not the same October 6th, as that would be a record of some sort.
Florida's first ever contest was a road game in Chicago against the Blackhawks. The recap as printed in the Gainesville Sun:
Chris Chelios scored two power-play goals and assisted on two by Jeremy Roenick to rally the Blackhawks to a tie in the NHL opener for the expansion Panthers in Chicago.
Andrei Lomakin's breakaway goal at 8:50 of the final period had pulled Florida into a 3-3 tie in the third period. Then Brian Skrudland's shot from point blank range at 13:40 beat Ed Belfour to give the Panthers a 4-3 lead.
Roenick's second power-play goal, a 25-footer from the right circle at 16:07, tied the score for the last time.
John Vanbiesbrouck, playing in his 450th career game, was the victim in the Florida goal, allowing the score after Chelios' 45-footer from the right point bounced back to Roenick.
Florida, playing its inaugural NHL game, helped the Blackhawks celebrate their final opening night in 64-year-old Chicago Stadium, which is due to be replaced by a new building next September.
Scott Mellanby and Gord Murphy also scored for the Panthers, while Scott Levins earned two assists. Vanbiesbrouck stopped 29-of-33 shots for the tie. Florida would stay on the road, facing the St. Louis Blues the very next night, while the Blackhawks would face the Maple Leafs in Toronto on October 9th.
The Panthers, owner of a 5-7-2 lifetime record against the New York Rangers, pulled into Madison Square Garden on the second night of a road back-to-back. They had defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-1, the prior night in the season opener. The AP recap, as printed in the Ocala Star Banner:
Wayne Gretzky's debut in New York was a flop as former Ranger John Vanbiesbrouck put on a goaltending clinic in the Florida Panthers' 5-2 victory Sunday night.
Gretzky, playing his first game as a Ranger in Madison Square Garden, saw plenty of ice time, particularly after Mark Messier was ejected in the second period for a checking-from-behind penalty.
But the NHL's career scoring leader, who signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Rangers this summer, could only manage one assist before a disappointed sellout crowd of 18,200 who had come to the Garden expecting big things.
Instead they saw Vanbiesbrouck continue his fine goaltending with 34 saves, including a sparkling stop on Gretzky's point-blank shot in the second period. Vanbiesbrouck also snuffed a breakaway in the same period when he deflected Sergi Nemchinov's pass to Gretzky in the slot.
Brian Skrudland scored two goals, including the game-winner at 6:20 of the third period after Patrick Flatley had tied the score at 2 for New York, which outshot the Panthers 36-29. Rob Niedermayer also scored two goals for Florida, while Scott Mellanby had the other. Niklas Sundstrom also scored for New York.
The Panthers took a 2-0 lead in the first period as Skrudland scored from outside the crease at 5:41 and Niedermayer from the right circle at 7:37.
Gord Murphy had two assists on the night. The 2-0-0 Panthers would face the Rangers again in two nights, in their home opener at the Miami Arena. The Rangers left MSG with a disappointing 0-1-1 record to start the season.
The 1-0-0 Panthers were coming off a season opening 4-3 home win over the Washington Capitals. They stayed in the house, hosting the Los Angeles Kings. At the time, Florida were the proud owners of a 4-3-3 all-time record against L.A. The recap, as printed in the Daily Gazette:
Mark Parrish and Viktor Kozlov each scored in the final two minutes as the Florida Panthers rallied for a win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Trailing 2-1, the Panthers struck for two goals in a 20-second span of the third period against Kings goaltender Stephane Fiset.
Kozlov scored from just outside the left crease on a feed from Ray Whitney to tie the game with 1:51 left.
Just 20 seconds later, Bret Hedican picked up a loose puck and fired it from the blue line towards Parrish, who deflected it from in front of Fiset for the game-winner. Pavel Bure, who has 31 goals in 37 career games against the Kings, added an empty-net goal with 34 seconds left as Florida won for the second time in as many games.
Luc Robitaille scored his third goal of the season and 520th of his career as the Kings lost for the first time in three games.
The Kings are in the middle of a seven-game road trip to start the season as they await the opening of the $375 million Staples Center.
Robert Svehla also scored for the Panthers, while Trevor Kidd stopped 14-of-16 shots for an easy win. Florida, now 2-0-0, would remain at home to host the Detroit Red Wings on October 9th. The Kings would continue their road trip, facing the Tampa Bay Lightning the following night.
The Panthers, coming off what would be their last playoff action for over a decade, opened the 2000-01 season at home hosting the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver was playing in their second road match of a back-to-back. They dropped a 6-3 matchup to the Flyers in Philadelphia the night prior. The AP recap, as it appeared in the Boca Raton News:
Pavel Bure waited 19 months to play his former team, the Vancouver Canucks. He'll have to wait at least another year to beat them.
Vancouver scored three first-period goals, including Donald Brashear's first since Marty McSorley hit him in the head with a stick eight months ago, and Ed Jovanovski added a fourth 2:20 into overtime to beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 Friday night.
Bure had a goal and an assist for the Panthers, who now might have another goalie controversy. Trevor Kidd lost for the eighth time in his last nine starts. Kidd and Mike Vernon split playing time for part of last season.
With Vernon gone, Kidd was named the starter this week despite being outplayed by newcomer Roberto Luongo in the preseason. Luongo, taken with the fourth pick by the New York Islanders in the 1997 draft, went 3-0-1 in the preseason. He allowed three goals in four games and posted two shutouts. Kidd went 1-2-0 and gave up 11 goals in five games.
He also struggled Friday.
The Canucks scored three goals in the opening period - one off a turnover, one on a power play, and another at even strength.
Andrew Cassels picked off Robert Svehla's centering pass and slapped it past Kidd from just outside the left circle at the 1:23 mark. Todd Bertuzzi gave Vancouver a 2-0 lead with his slap shot, which beat Kidd high from the right circle at 10:37.
Brashear capped the first-period scoring with a one-timer from the right circle.
Brashear's goal came on the same day McSorley was found guilty, in a Vancouver, British Columbia court, of assault with a weapon. But McSorley won't be sent to jail for his two-fisted stick attack that knocked Brashear to the ice.
The hit came with three seconds left in the Feb. 21 game between Boston and the Canucks.
Brashear briefly lost consciousness, and had a concussion and memory lapses. He returned to play after several weeks and has fully recovered.
Bure scored the Panthers' first goal, ripping a one-timer past Bob Essensa from just inside the blue line. He added an assist in the third, setting up Igor Larionov's putback with 15:48 to play.
Jaroslav Spacek tied it with 4:43 to play, beating Essensa with a slap shot from the slot.
Bure spent the first seven years of his career with Vancouver, but held out the 1998-99 season before being traded to Florida. He was injured for both meetings against the Canucks last season.
Igor Larionov also scored a goal and an assist. Trevor Kidd allowed four goals on only 21 shots in the loss. The 0-0-0-1 Panthers would hit the road afterward, facing the Boston Bruins on October 9, while the Canucks, now 1-1-0-0, headed to Tampa Bay to face the Lightining on October 8.
The 0-1 Panthers, losers of their home opener two nights prior to the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-1, opened the season at home against the New York Islanders. New York was fresh off a season opening 3-2 road victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The recap, as printed in the Daily Gazette:
Chris Osgood made 31 saves, and the New York Islanders stopped nine power plays to beat the Florida Panthers.
Osgood's 31st career shutout was his first for the Islanders, who improved to 2-0 for the first time since 1987.
Another offseason acquisition, Alexei Yashin, scored his first goal at 7:18 of the first period on a breakaway from the red line, shooting over Roberto Luongo's leg pad on the glove side. Mariusz Czerkawski assisted.
Mark Parrish, who had two goals in the Islanders' opener, score with 4:30 left in the game on a one timer from the slot. Shawn Bates set up the score with a blind backhand pass from behind the net, and Michael Peca also assisted.
The loss left the Panthers at 0-2-0-0. Florida would take the road and play the following night in Tampa Bay against the Lightning, while the Islanders, now 2-0-0-0, would stay on their season opening road trip and visit the Pittsburgh Penguins, on October 10th.
The Panthers narrowly missed the playoff hunt in 2005-06, missing the playoffs by seven points. They opened the 2006-07 season one Luongo short of where they ended the prior season. The Boston Bruins rolled into town to open up the then Bank Atlantic Center. The recap, as displayed at NHL.COM:
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -Todd Bertuzzi scored the Florida Panthers' first goal of the season, then hoisted both hands into the air.
He repeated that celebratory routine often in his Florida debut.
Bertuzzi had three assists - capping his first four-point night since Feb. 25, 2003 and tying a career high - and Joe Nieuwendyk had two goals and an assist as the Panthers opened with an 8-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Friday night.
"It's nice to get that out of the way," Bertuzzi said. "But most importantly, it was the win. We needed a strong team effort to get off right. ... It was a matter of getting going tonight, and we did."
It was the worst opening-night loss for the Bruins since a 9-4 defeat to Montreal on Oct. 9, 1975.
Alex Auld, who came to the Panthers with Bertuzzi in the offseason trade that sent All-Star goalie Roberto Luongo to Vancouver, stopped 34 shots for Florida.
Mike Van Ryn, Juraj Kolnik, Nathan Horton, Chris Gratton and Olli Jokinen also scored for the Panthers, while Ruslan Salei, Rostislav Olesz and Jozef Stumpel each had two assists.
"It was a lot of fun," Auld said. "And, obviously, it's great to get that kind of support at the other end."
Marco Sturm had a goal and an assist, Glen Murray and Wayne Primeau each had a goal, and Zdeno Chara added two assists for Boston, which has two wins in its last 11 season openers.
"We had energy at the start of the first period and the start of the second period," Bruins coach Dave Lewis said. "Somewhere along the way, we lost our mojo. ... We're not going to throw away a month's preparation for the start of the season after one game."
The Bruins drew within 3-2 early in the second period on Murray's goal, but Florida scored the next five to take control. Nieuwendyk tapped in a centering pass from Bertuzzi at 9:01 of the second for a 4-2 lead, then scored again at 1:23 of the third period.
Nieuwendyk's goals gave him 561 for his career, pushing him past Guy LaFleur for 19th on the NHL's career list.
"I have a lot of respect for Guy. I grew up idolizing him," Nieuwendyk said. "To have an opportunity to go ahead of him on the all-time goals list is a great thrill."
Horton got a power-play score at 6:34 of the third, then set up Gratton for the goal that knocked Bruins goalie Tim Thomas out of the game at 8:21. Thomas stopped 27 of 34 shots, before being relieved by Hannu Toivonen - who allowed Jokinen's goal with 4:56 left.
Florida was 4-for-6 on the power play; Boston 1-for-8.
"It's certainly not the opening game of the season I expected or wanted," Thomas said.
Bertuzzi scored Florida's first goal at 6:33 of the opening period, gathering the rebound of Jokinen's shot and quickly tucking it past Thomas.
"I was pretty jacked up," Bertuzzi said. "Obviously, you want to get one ... to get it over with."
Van Ryn made it 2-0 when he took a diagonal pass from Stumpel and fired the puck past Thomas' near side 47 seconds after Bertuzzi's score.
Boston got within 2-1 when Sturm, camped out to the right of the net, collected Marc Savard's pass and - despite a poor angle - beat Auld from close range. But Kolnik restored Florida's two-goal edge at 18:29 of the first, spinning in the slot to push a rebound of Jay Bouwmeester's shot into an open net.
Murray's goal cut the margin to 3-2 but it was all Florida from there, at least until Primeau's unassisted tally with 53.9 seconds left.
"We'll enjoy the two points," said Panthers coach Jacques Martin, whose team visits Atlanta to continue a six-game, nine-day stretch Saturday. "But we've got to get back to work tomorrow night."
Of course, Bertuzzi's stay in Pantherland would be extremely short, but I remember at the time thinking that we got something legitimate in the Luongo trade. The 1-0-0 Panthers would hit the road and face the Atlanta Thrashers the following night, while the Bruins would continue their five game season opening road trip the next night in Tampa Bay against the Lightning.
The 2006-07 Panthers missed the playoffs by six points, going 35-31-16. They opened the 2007-08 season with a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers, then opened at home against the New Jersey Devils, two nights later. The NHL.COM recap:
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -Brent Sutter didn't want to make a big deal out of his first NHL coaching victory. However, there was no downplaying the performance of Devils backup goalie Kevin Weekes.
"I don't get caught up in that as far as myself," Sutter said of his first victory. "The main thing is I want these players to have success."
Weekes had 20 of his 32 saves in the first period before New Jersey pulled away for a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.
"Weekesy played great and obviously gave us a chance," Sutter said. "I thought the second and third periods we played very well."
Weekes was playing for the first time since last January, when he was with the New York Rangers.
"It has been a long time," Weekes said. "But at the same time I'm thankful for every day. Be thankful for your health, and you work hard and hopefully good things will happen."
John Madden scored twice for the Devils, who opened the season with a 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Andy Greene and Mike Mottau also scored for New Jersey.
"It feels good," Madden said. "It usually takes me a lot longer than that to get going."
Against the Panthers, it took the entire New Jersey team a while to get going. Sutter's message to his players during the first intermission also helped.
"He just told us we looked like little kids out there playing with men," Madden said, "and he told us to get our act in gear if we were going to salvage the game."
Cory Murphy scored in the first period for Florida, which had won its last three home openers. Tomas Vokoun, acquired from Nashville in the offseason, finished with 20 saves but had a second consecutive shaky outing.
Vokoun gave up five goals on 24 shots in Thursday night's 5-2 loss to the Rangers in the opener before allowing four goals against the Devils.
"He hasn't done the job, that's the bottom line," Florida coach Jacques Martin said. "But it's a long season and I think he's going to have a lot of games."
With the teams tied 1-1 in the second period, Madden gave New Jersey the lead with a power-play goal. Vokoun went behind the net to play the puck, but David Clarkson poked it away from him. Madden grabbed the puck and his pass to the front of the net went in off the skate of Panthers defenseman Branislaz Mezei.
Green added to the lead at 17:44 with another power-play goal. After Patrick Elias' slap shot went wide and bounced off the board, Green grabbed the rebound and fired a shot that went in off Vokoun.
"I played a long time and these things happen," Vokoun said. "Sometimes things aren't going to go your way. That's what you're judged on. Everything's not going to be a smooth ride, or going to be easy."
Madden opened the scoring 1:02 into the game when he redirected Arron Asham's pass on a 2-on-1.
Murphy tied the score at 9:13 with Florida on a two-man advantage when he one-timed Rostislav Olesz's cross-ice pass. It was the first NHL goal for Murphy, a 29-year-old rookie who spent the last six seasons in Europe.
"It's exciting," Murphy said. "It's a 29-year-old rookie. It would have been nicer to get the win, but I'll look back on it someday."
Mottau scored the only goal of the third period when his wrist shot from the point beat Vokoun through a screen.
The Devils are opening the season with nine consecutive road games while construction wraps up on their new arena in Newark. New Jersey is back at Florida on Thursday.
The 0-2 Panthers would thereafter hit the road and face the Lightning in Tampa Bay on October 10th, while the 1-1 Devils would continue their nine game long road trip in Ottawa on October 8.
Florida has gone 3-2-1-1 on this date until now. How did they look on October 7th? Find out here tomorrow.