Connect with us

2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Carter Verhaeghe: OT Hero for Florida Panthers Once More



Florida panthers

SUNRISE — Once again, Carter Verhaeghe was the overtime hero for the Florida Panthers.

His latest in a long line of clutch moments for the Panthers in their 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning gave them a commanding 2-0 series lead against his former team.

So, what’s the secret sauce for Verhaeghe?

“It’s a tough question,” Verhaeghe said. “I think as a team, we are a pretty loose team and when we go into those situations where it’s do or die and we kind of just leave it all out there.

“It’s one play, and someone’s gotta make the play. [Matthew Tkachuk] made an awesome play, [Anton Lundell] made an awesome play and obviously, I just finished it and that’s kind of how it goes in those situations. You’re just trying to make a play, go out there a little loose, have fun and, I mean, they go in sometimes I guess.”

Those pucks go in for Verhaeghe a bit more often than they do for most players.

It was his fifth-career overtime winner in the playoffs, tying him for third in NHL history with Glenn AndersonCorey Perry and Patrick Kane.

Only Joe Sakic (eight) and Maurice Richard (six) have more.

And Verhaeghe (47 games) has played at least half the amount of games as all of them.

“He’s proven to be [clutch],” coach Paul Maurice said. “He just has that ability to elevate his play.

“I can’t explain it to you. It’s certainly not a teachable thing but it seems that, as the energy level increases in a game, his game fits. He operates at a very high frequency and when the game matches that frequency, good things happen for him.”

Added Verhaeghe: “They’re pretty good players. But I mean, honestly, it could’ve been anyone. Any time we go into OT, we are pretty confident and it can go any way. At the end of the day, it’s just one shot. Someone has to make a play eventually. But being in the conversation with those other guys is pretty crazy.”

Verhaeghe’s latest overtime winner is a prime example of what makes him great in those big moments.

He went to the net, picked up a tough pass from Lundell through traffic and roofed a backhand shot top shelf to win the game 2:59 into overtime.

“It was a rimmed puck by [Niko Mikkola], we tried to regroup there and Tkachuk made an awesome play off the wall. He’s so good at making inside plays off the wall like that,” Verhaeghe said.

“He got it to Lundell and I just tried to go to the net and Lundell had four guys on him and made a play to the stick to me and I just went backhand and tried to put it in, and it went in luckily.”

But hey, his teammates know if there is anyone who they want to give the puck in those moments, it’s him.

“He’s got the clutch gene,” Aaron Ekblad said.  “He’s born with it.

”You say that, but it’s a lot of years of hard work. We did some rehab stuff together before the playoffs here, so when you’re with him every day, you see the work ethic he puts in, so it’s no surprise.”

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa 
  • Local TV/National TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/TBS/HBOMax
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • First Round (Panthers Lead 1-0) — Game 1: Panthers 3, Lightning 2; Game 2: Florida 3, Tampa Bay 2 OT; Game 3: Thursday at Tampa Bay, 7 (BSF, TBS); Game 4: Saturday Ap. 27 at Tampa Bay, 5 (BSF, TBS, TruTV); Game 5*: Monday Ap. 29 at Florida, TBA (BSF, TBA); Game 6*: Wednesday May 1 at Tampa Bay, TBA (BSF, TBA); Game 7*: Saturday May 4 at Florida, TBA (BSF, TBA). (*) — If necessary
  • 2023-24 Regular Season Series (Panthers Won 2-1) — At Tampa Bay: Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (Dec. 27)Panthers 9, Lightning 2 (Feb. 17). At Florida: Lightning 5, Panthers 3 (March 16).
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 77-51-19, 10 ties
  • All-Time Postgame Series: Lightning Leads 2-0 (2021 first-round, 2022 ECS)

Get FHN+ today!