Jonathan Huberdeau made his first appearance of the 2016-17 a successful one, scoring the game-winning goal in the Florida Panthers 2-1 win over the visiting Anaheim Ducks.
The win gave the Panthers their first three-game winning streak of the season and pulled within two points of a playoff spot.
Anaheim struck first with the teams skating 4-on-4 after Aleksander Barkov’s interference penalty negated a Florida power-play.
Hampus Lindholm got the goal at 9:39 mark, beating James Reimer with a wrister from the top of the left circle after Antoine Vermette cleanly won the faceoff back to him and then set the screen.
Reilly Smith got away from Lindholm and went to the net to even the score just 13 seconds later. Jason Demers carried the puck up ice after taking a pass from defense partner Keith Yandle and his cross deflected off the determined Smith and went behind John Gibson for the goal.
The Panthers had a golden opportunity to take the lead midway through the second period but failed to convert on a 1:55 worth of 5-on-3 time.
Florida did come up with the go-ahead goal a few minutes later when Barkov, also making his return to the lineup, bullied his way by Kevin Bieska after taking a pass from Yandle and found Huberdeau in the slot for the quick put away with 4:58 left in the frame.
The Cats limited the Ducks to three shots in the third and Reimer finished with 21 stops to earn his ninth win, lowering his GAA to 2.50 in the process. Reimer made a late pad save on Corey Perry to preserve the one-goal lead.
This was an very important win as a five-day bye begins today before the Panthers welcome the Los Angeles on Thursday to close the homestand.
Tar & Feathers
- Jonathan Huberdeau’s goal was his first since April 24, when he scored Florida’s only goal in the game six playoff loss to the New York Islanders.
- In addition his nice dish on the game-winner, Aleksander Barkov registered three shots on net and a block in his return from a 15-game absence.
- Reilly Smith’s goal was his tenth of the year. Smith has now hit double-digit goals in four straight seasons.
- John Gibson started for the 15th time in the last 17 games and made 35 saves to keep his team close.
- An 0-for-5 performance on the power play was really the only glaring negative in the debut of Florida’s lineup at full strength.
- Former Cat Logan Shaw faced his old team for the first time after being traded for Michael Sgarbossa. Shaw had one shot and a hit in his 10:40 of ice time.
- For more on the first of two matches between the two 1993 expansion cousins, check out Anaheim Calling.