On Thursday night in Sunrise at the BB&T Center, the Florida Panthers defeated the New Jersey Devils in overtime, 2-1.
After honoring Jose Fernandez and the JDF16 Foundation with a pre-game skate where every Panther wore #16, the arena crew threw on a season-opening video reel that got everyone in the house stoked for hockey (and I’ll admit, I was a little stoked too. You would agree if you had seen it).
After raising the banner (Florida’s third, next to the 1996 Eastern Conference and the 2012 Southeast Division flags), the Panthers were introduced and the anthem was sang.
Eight Panthers made their debut with Florida, including Denis Malgin and Shane Harper, who were making their first ever NHL appearances. For contrasts sake, it was Jaromir Jagr’s 23rd NHL opening day.
Florida matched goals with New Jersey in the first period, trading a Jonathan Marchessault marker for one by P.A. Parenteau.
After a New Jersey controlled second and a Florida controlled third yielded zero goals, an overtime period was needed to decide things. Each team got a rush or two before Aleksander Barkov buried the puck at 2:48 of the three-on-three action. The biscuit was freed up courtesy of the dogged determination of Mike Matheson, who wrestled down Devils’ defenseman Damon Severson behind Cory Schneider’s net, took the puck, and fed it out to our man Sasha for the quick wrister. It was Florida’s first overtime home victory in three seasons.
Barkov was selected as the First Star of the game, and Roberto Luongo made 24 saves to earn the second. Schneider won the third in a losing effort, allowing both goals on 34 shots.
Check back here in the A.M. for a full length, bells and whistles recap.