Samson Reinhart scored his first goal, Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 shots, and for the second straight game rookie Anton Lundell collected a goal and an assist as the Florida Panthers moved to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history with a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Reinhart notched his first with Florida to open the scoring 14:32 into the first period when Mason Marchment raced into the corner to negate an icing and fed the former Sabre in front. Lundell picked up the secondary assist on the goal.
The Avalanche struck back before the end of the frame with the goal going to Mikko Rantanen and the assists to Samuel Girard, the player beaten for the puck by Marchment, and Nathan MacKinnon. That would be it for Colorado offensively.
Sam Bennett would put the Cats on top for good 9:04 into the second with Rantanen off for interference. Bennett took a pass at the blue line from Aaron Ekblad and cut into the middle of the ice before sniping backup keeper Jonas Johannsson as he approached the left circle. Jonathan Huberdeau collected his third point of the season with the second assist on Bennett’s team-leading fourth.
With less than a minute to go in the frame, Carter Verhaeghe lit the lamp unassisted after he came up with a takeaway along the boards and worked his way into the slot to give the Panthers a comfortable two-goal cushion.
After facing 23 shots in the first two periods, Bobrovsky only had to face eight in the third and he held the Avalanche at bay until Lundell iced it into an empty net with Marchment getting his second helper of the night and Radko Gudas also picking up an assist. Lundell won a defensive zone draw to start off the final scoring play. The 20-year-old continues to get it done at both ends of the ice.
Tough early season schedule? Not a problem... The Panthers continue to dispatch Stanley Cup contenders with ease. In the last three games they have dispatched the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning and the betting favorite Avalanche by a combined score of 13-3. The Cats dominated faceoffs (58%), out-shot Colorado by a 38-31 margin and came up with the game’s only power-play goal. The drive for five will see the Cats visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.
Peaks & Valleys
- Florida’s perfect 4-0 start is the best in franchise history. The Cats had seven points in the standings through the first four games on three other occasions: 1996-97, 1999-2000 and last season.
- Sergei Bobrovsky picked up his 300th career win the NHL (82nd with Florida) and was named the game’s First Star. Whatever Bobrovsky did in the offseason seems to be working as he is now 3-0 with a 1.99 GAA and .944 save percentage.
- Another milestone saw Anthony Duclair, who had his three-game scoring streak snapped, suit up for his 400th NHL game.
- In addition to his assist, Aaron Ekblad logged a game-high 26:25 of ice time, registered a game-high (tied with Aleksander Barkov) five shots on goal, blocked one shot, and was one of three Panthers (Mason Marchment and MacKenize Weegar were the others) to finish the game with a +2 rating.
- Jonas Johansson made his first start of the season for the Avalanche and stopped 34 of 37 shots. 21 of those saves came in the second period, where the Cats peppered him and out-shot the Avs 23-12.
- For more on Florida’s most recent victory and Colorado’s disappointing start get Rocky Mountain high at Mile High Hockey.
Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)