The four points were a career-high for the 26-year-old Duclair. Florida is the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss, the first team to hit ten wins, and are one game from matching the franchise mark for longest point streak to start a season.
The Duke took a crisp crossing pass from Carter Verhaeghe and loaded up before ripping a rising shot past Frederik Andersen 2:28 into the first period. Brandon Montour picked up the second assist on the power-play goal.
The Panthers struck again on the power play at 10:02 when Montour and Duclair combined to set up Frank Vatrano for a one-timed blast from just above the right circle. Eetu Luostarinen drew the hooking call on Steven Lorentz.
Florida would grow the lead to three 3:12 later with rookie Anton Lundell doing the honors. Radko Gudas stepped up to hold puck in and got it behind the net to Owen Tippett. Tippett’s centering pass clipped Andersen’s stick blade and came right to Lundell, who jerked the goaltender out of position and finished into a yawning net.
The Panthers went up by four with yet another power-play goal. Patric Hornqvist drove to the net and scored easily to cap off a gorgeous display of puck movement that saw Sam Reinhart get the primary assist and Duclair the secondary a mere 2:14 after Lundell’s goal. Just a beautiful piece of work, all five skaters touched the puck, with the man-advantage to get the grizzled veteran his first of the season.
Carolina returned for the second period with Antti Raanta in net and a bee in their bonnet, outshooting the Panthers 14-8 and scoring twice to climb back in the game.
The Hurricanes finally got on the board at 7:01 when Jesper Fast rapped home a centering feed from defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who went down in the corner to make the pass. The second assist on the goal went to former Cat Vincent Trocheck.
Trocheck continued to feast against his old mates as he came up with the only goal on an undeserved major charging penalty handed out to Ryan Lomberg for colliding with Raanta, who departed the game. Teuvo Teravainen’s initial shot hit Andrei Svechnikov in the chest and went below the goal line. Mr. Svechnikov was able to quickly throw the puck into the crease and Trocheck tapped it in past a down-and-out Spencer Knight.
After surrendering two goals in a 8:19 span, Knight settled back down and would not allow another. Knight finished the game with 30 saves, including 12 stops in the final frame.
Duclair established his new persoanl game-high in points when he turned on the speed to notch the clinching empty-net goal with 59 seconds left in the game with the lone assist going to linemate Verhaeghe. Storm threat over.
No Aleksander Barkov (a late scratch), Sam Bennett or Sergei Bobrovksy, no problem. The Panthers delivered an absolutely electrifying first period performance that showcased their overwhelming skill and enviable depth to defeat the Hurricanes, who were seeking a piece of NHL history by matching the longest season-opening winning streak (10-0-0), held by the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres and 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs. Eleven games into the season and the Cats have already amassed 21 points and proved their mettle against many of the teams predicted to be serious Stanley Cup contenders. The Panthers take the league’s top show to Broadway for a Monday night tilt against the New York Rangers to kick off a four-game road trip.
Shutters and Sand Bags
- Florida’s 11-game point streak is the longest to start a season in the league since the Chicago Blackhawks started 21-0-3 in 2012-13.
- May have gone somewhat unnoticed in the all the offensive fireworks, but MacKenzie Weegar delivered on the back end with a game-high six blocked shots and a team-high six hits. Carolina’s Jordan Staal and Ian Cole also dished out six hits.
- Sticking with the defense, Radko Gudas returned to the lineup and registered an assist, three shots, three hits, three blocks and finished with a +2 rating.
- Frank Vatrano’s goal was just his second of the season. He led the Cats with six shots on goal.
- Frederik Andersen got the hook after he allowed four goals on 15 shots in the first period but returned at 12:22 of the second when Antti Raanta (four saves) sustained an upper-body injury in the collision with Ryan Lomberg, who was tossed. Andersen, who entered the game with an 8-0 record and 1.50 GAA, finished up with 23 saves on 27 shots.
- The Panthers struggled again on faceoffs as the Hurricanes won 64% of the game’s draws. With Barkov, Bennett and Joe Thornton out, I’m not going to complain, but that was one of the game’s only negatives.
- For more on the first tilt in NHL history between teams with active season-opening point streaks of nine or more games, visit Canes Country.
Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)