$70 million dollar man Sergei Bobrovsky made 22 saves to pick up his first shutout in a Florida uniform and Jonathan Huberdeau continued to pile up the points as the Panthers rolled to a 4-0 win over the struggling Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
Huberdeau scored twice and added an assist to spark the Cats offense. Aleksander Barkov had a power-play goal and an assist, and Brett Connolly opened the scoring for the Panthers, beating Jonathan Bernier far post with a nice shot from the left circle 3:08 into the first period.
Denis Malgin set up Connolly’s goal with a pinpoint pass, Keith Yandle added two assists and Frank Vatrano, Anton Stralman, Aaron Ekblad also picked up helpers.
Barkov whacked in a rebound of Huberdeau’s shot with 3:06 left in the first, Huberdeau cleaned up after Barkov flubbed the rebound of the winger’s original stuff attempt at 6:45 of the second, and then completed the scoring with 9:54 remaining when he redirected Yandle’s perfect feed home to cap off a fine bit of passing by the Panthers’ top five-man unit.
The win gave the Cats points in 10 of their last 11 games (6-1-4) and coupled with Montreal’s loss to Dallas (thank you, Stars!) moved the club back into third place in the Atlantic Division. Florida is just two points behind cooling Buffalo for second place with a game in hand.
Bobrovsky’s shutout lowered his bloated GAA from 3.70 to 3.36. His best save of the night came in the second period when denied Madison Bowey with the glove and a 3-0 lead. The Russian keeper has 23 shutouts since the start of the 2015-16 season, the most in the NHL during that span.
The Panthers get a four-day break before they face the powerful Washington Capitals on Thursday at the BB&T Center.
We are used to seeing the Cats play a lot of tight games and play down to opponents, so watching them cruise last night was a pleasure. The team is off to its best start through 14 games since 1996-7, when they started 9-1-4. Let’s enjoy this one, folks.
Cogs & Sprockets
- In addition to putting up three points, Jonathan Huberdeau registered a game-high 8 shots on goal. Huberdeau leads the club in goals (9) and points (18) and has gotten on the score sheet in 12 of the Panthers first 14 games.
- Anton Stralman collected his 200th NHL assist on Huberdeau’s first goal of the night. It took the defenseman 763 games to hit the milestone.
- Riley Stillman looked like a different player in his third game of the season. The rookie put five shots on goal, blocked three shots and went +1 in 19:03 TOI. Nice game, kid.
- Jonathan Bernier turned aside 37 of 41 shots and saw his record drop to 2-4-1.
- The Cats held the Red Wings, who are 1-9-1 in their last 11, to a season-low in shots.
- Use the world wide web to drive over to Winging It In Motown for the other side of Florida’s one-sided victory,