The Florida Panthers opened a three-game homestand with a feisty 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks at FLA Live Arena, where the club is now a dominating 19-3 this season. Florida is now 6-0-1 in its last seven games.
Sam Reinhart, returning after missing three games in covid protocol, scored twice and added an assist, Aaron Ekblad produced a goal and two assists, and Aleksander Barkov notched Florida’s fifth goal on a shorthanded breakaway with a one minute to go in the second period. Barkov also drew an assist on Reinhart’s first goal, which came 1:06 after Ekblad started the scoring off 5:18 into the opening frame with a quarter-slapper from the point.
Sergei Bobrovsky delivered another quality start with a 42-save effort that saw the veteran keeper get his 17th win, lower his GAA to 2,55, and up his save percentage to .919.
The Canucks, who thanks to a couple of covid-related postponements hadn’t played since New Year’s Day, got a short-side snipe from Jason Dickinson, which cut the deficit to 2-1, and third period rebound goal from former Panther Juho Lammikko.
Ekblad’s goal and Reinhart’s 66 seconds later, a tip off a shot from Radko Gudas, who immediately dropped the glove to fight J.T. Miller, was the tenth of the season for each player, giving the Panthers seven skaters in double-digit goals just 36 games into the season.
Rookie Anton Lundell had two helpers, including a nifty little between-the-legs centering feed to Maxim Mamin, who lifted a backhander by Thatcher Demko 9:12 into second, as did Frank Vatrano. Jonathan Huberdeau, whose wrist shot from the left circle glanced off Reinhart’s hip for a power-play goal, extended his point streak to six games.
The two early goals gave the Panthers a cushion they would not relinquish the rest of the way, despite getting outshot and outhit by hefty margins by the the visiting Canucks, who lost in regulation for the first time under new coach Bruce Boudreau. Florida‘s special teams clicked with a power-play goal and then a shorty 26 seconds apart midway through the second to put Vancouver in a deep hole. The Cats will be looking for a bit of revenge when they host the Dallas Stars on Friday. That game will be followed a day later by a date with the middling Columbus Blue Jackets.
Orcas & Seas
- This is just the second time in franchise history that the Panthers have accumulated more than 50 points through 36 games. The only other time was in 1995-96, the season that the team went to the Stanley Cup final.
- The Cats solved Thatcher Demko, who was 7-0-0 with a 1.40 goals-against average and a .955 save percentage since the coaching, five times on 26 shots.
- Florida’s second Sam, Bennett, also returned to the lineup after serving a three-game suspension. Bennett had a shot, hit and block in 14:52 TOI.
- Defenseman Brad Hunt drew the secondary assist on both Vancouver goals. Conor Garland and Tyler Motte had the primaries.
- MacKenzie Weegar joined Radko Gudas in Florida’s fight club by squaring off with Tanner Pearson late in the game. The pair had a team-leading three hits each during the tilt.
- The Panthers brought J.T. Miller’s nine-game scoring streak to an end. Miller, the Canucks leading scorer, collected 13 points during the run.
- For more on round one of Florida and Vancouver, visit Nucks Misconduct