Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals and Spencer Knight stopped 17 shots to post his NHL shutout in the Florida Panthers 3-0 win over the fading Anaheim Ducks, who lost for the sixth-straight time.
Coming off a 5-3 defeat to Vegas on Thursday in which they looked somewhat out of synch, the Cats dominated the Ducks, outshooting them 42-17, outhitting them 28-21 and actually winning the faceoff battle for a change.
The Panthers opened the scoring 13:54 into the first period with Sam Steel off for hooking. Anthony Duclair sent the puck to Sam Reinhart behind the net and he fed an open Jonathan Huberdeau for a one-timer for inner edge of the left circle.
Huberdeau would strike again with seven seconds left in the frame to put the Cats up by a pair. Working off the left side boards, Aleksander Barkov centered to Mason Marchment in front. Marchment was well-defended so he sent the puck back to Barkov, who then found Huberdeau with a no-look backhand pass in almost the same spot he scored his first goal from. This time he beat John Gibson with a wrist shot to pass Olli Jokinen for the second most goals in franchise history. Huberdeau is up to 189, 28 behind team leader Barkov’s 207.
The Cats would complete the scoring 3:44 into the second period when Gibson stopped Noel Acciari’s wraparound attempt, only to see Joe Thornton notch his fifth of the season when he swatted the rebound home. Carter Verhaeghe drew the secondary assist, putting the puck behind the Anaheim goal for a determined Acciari to work free from Andrej Sustr and Isac Lundestrom.
Knight would make 11 saves after the Thornton goal as the Cats finished up the four-game trek west with a 2-1-1 record, backstopped by the rookie who started all four games in place of an ailing Sergei Bobrovsky. The 20-year-old stuffed Vinni Letteri on the door step in the second period and denied Troy Terry with both blocker and glove in the third.
Hats off to the Panthers, who quickly bounced back from the Sin City stinker with a complete effort in Anaheim. While they didn’t add to their lead over the final 36 minutes, they didn’t take their foot off the gas either, keeping Gibson (39 saves) busy the rest of the night. The Cats will get five days to rest before embarking on a three-game Canadian road trip that sees them play division rivals Montreal, Ottawa and finally the Toronto Maple Leafs, for the first time this season.
Tar & Feathers
- For the first time in NHL history, a player age 40 or older scored a goal (Joe Thornton) and a goalie age 20 or younger (Spencer Knight) had a shutout in the same game.
- With his first marker, Jonathan Huberdeau became the six Panther to reach 20 goals this season, joining Aleksander Barkov, Sam Bennett, Anthony Duclair, Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe. Huberdeau pulled within one point of Connor McDavid in the NHL scoring race.
- The Cats lost Aaron Ekblad 1:05 into the game after he sustained a lower-body injury when he collided with Barkov in the corner of the Anaheim zone. With Patric Hornqvist already out, Florida went with a 11F/7D lineup, so Lucas Carlsson (13:37 TOI) was there to help out.
- Defenseman Simon Benoit (4) and forward Troy Terry (3) were the only Ducks to register more than two shots on goal in the game.
- Radko Gudas delivered nine hits to give him 275, which broke the single-season Panthers record previously held by Derek MacKenzie (273 in 2014-15).
- For more on the first meeting between Cats and Ducks since 2020, visit Anaheim Calling,