Barkov’s overtime-winner leads Panthers past Devils 2-1

Pivot converts gorgeous Matheson feed for the bonus point

At times the new-look Florida Panthers were dominant and at times they sputtered, but in the end, the Cats squeaked out a 2-1 overtime win over a game Cory Schneider and the rest of the visiting New Jersey Devils to get the 2016-17 season started off on the right foot.

The game-winning goal came with 2:12 left in the extra session when determined rookie Michael Matheson jacked the puck from Damon Severson behind the New Jersey cage and backhanded a beautiful pass to Aleksander Barkov, who one-timed it home.

Before heading to overtime, the Panthers controlled the majority of the final frame, out-shooting the Devils by a 16-7 margin, doubling their output over the first forty minutes.

New Jersey almost stole a win late in regulation when Andy Greene sent a screamer on goal, only to be denied when Roberto Luongo made a huge glove save. Luongo finished the game with 24 stops.

Florida looked good in the opening period (and not so good in the second) as well, with the increased team speed creating lots of turnovers and scoring chances.

The upgraded skill on defense was also evident as the blueliners were able to keep the puck in the Devils’ zone and create offense.

In his first game as a Panther, and filling in on the top line for Jonathan Huberdeau, free agent acquisition Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring at the 9:38 when his shot deflected off both Schneider and Ben Lovejoy and into the net. The assists on the goal went to Barkov and defenseman Alex Petrovic.

The Devils took advantage off a sloppy stretch by the Cats late in the first to get the equalizer.

P.A. Parenteau got the goal with 29 seconds left when a blast from the point by rookie Yohann Auvitu glanced off his leg on its way by Luongo. Pavel Zacha, playing in his second NHL game, picked up the secondary helper.

Florida had a hard time shaking off the goal, They came out flat in the second period and let the Devils control much of the play.

The Panthers collective light went back on in the third, with only the fine play of Schneider, who made 32 saves, preventing the Cats from building a lead.

It certainly wasn’t perfect, but at times it was real pretty. Watching the game there were definitely some rust/chemistry issues (maybe the starters should have seen more time in preseason), but those will get ironed out as we move forward. I’d expect the Cats to be a lot sharper on Saturday night when they play host to the Detroit Red Wings.

Fire & Brimstone

  • The win gave the Panthers a 5-0-1 record in their last six season-openers.
  • AHL vet Shane Harper and 19-year-old Denis Malgin both made their NHL debuts last night. Harper spent six minutes in the penalty box during the first period and finished with 2 shots and 3 hits. Malgin had only one shot, but looked like an big-leaguer in his 12:13 TOI.
  • Jaromir Jagr led all skaters with 7 shots on goal. Before Barkov won it, Jagr had a close call in overtime.
  • Roberto Luongo picked up career win 437, tying him with Jacques Plante for sixth all-time.
  • The Panthers did a good job of keeping Taylor Hall, in his game as a Devil, under wraps, but the talented winger almost won it with a redirection bid late in regulation. Hall finished with two shots and a -1 rating.
  • The Devils, led by Ben Lovejoy’s four, totaled 16 blocked shots in the game.
  • Journey down to the ninth level and say hello to our friends at All About The Jersey, who have the other side of this one.
  • JC’s late-night, post game observations: /

The Panthers new D looks as advertised, quick, lots of offense, great puck movers. Lu looked amazing at times, although he left some un-Lu like rebounds. The forwards need to get their timing and games in line. Somewhat alarming was the lack of chemistry by Smith, Trocheck, and Jokinen. Smith was terrible. Their line had great difficulty in the D zone. I expect them to be more ready to hit the ice running than the other cobbled together lines, but that was not the case. Nonetheless, offensive timing is usually the last thing to come along. Malgin did not look like he was playing his first game, he was terrific.

The 2nd period was awful; outshot, flat, a continuation of that under a minute to go goal from the 1st period. Disappointing crowd, and there was little energy in the building (especially when compared with last season's opener).

Still, the team looks like it has a great deal of potential- lots of shots, prevented shots against, attacked the net, it looks like this will indeed be something special. One concern was that the Cats were indeed out-muscled and the Devils took some shots and pushed the Panthers around by Luongo's net. Concerns about the loss of toughness will be something to keep an eye on. At one point Jagr suffered a cheap shot. The team may need Thornton for the next Devils game.’s full Video Recap