Christopher Gibson made a strong impression in his first exhibition game with the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night and seemingly solidified his spot as the team’s No. 3 goalie.
Florida will, barring any injuries, go into the season with Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight manning the nets.
Coming into training camp, the one goalie battle worth watching was between Gibson and Sam Montembeault for the starting gig — and the likely first Florida call-up if something was to happen — in Charlotte.
Gibson signed with the Panthers after spending last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning and playing with a number of Florida prospects for the AHL Syracuse Crunch.
On Wednesday, he made 35 stops in the first 65 minutes of play then shutdown the Stars in three shootout rounds as the Panthers rallied from a 3-2 deficit to beat Dallas 4-3.
Coach Joel Quenneville praised Gibson’s effort on Wednesday night and continued it Thursday.
When the Panthers’ main group came out for practice Thursday morning, Gibson remained working with Bobrovsky and Knight.
“He was great, thought he was outstanding,” Quenneville said. “There were a ton of high-quality chances in that first and second period.”
The Panthers will play their fourth preseason game Friday night and Quenneville said Gibson will see some time in what will be his second exhibition game so far.
Per Quenneville, Bobrovsky will start the game against Dallas and play the first two periods; Gibson will go from the third period on.
Gibson, 28, said it felt good to get back out on the ice and play a real game again.
”I feel good, am happy with the win for sure,” he said. “It is an NHL preseason game so you know you’re going to be busy. Our guys battled really hard. I like how I have ben practicing, everything that’s been going on around here.”
Gibson has a little NHL experience both with the New York Islanders — of which he was part of their organization for four seasons — and with the Lightning.
The Panthers signed him at the start of free agency to give the Panthers depth at the goaltending position.
So far, he has not disappointed.
“I just want the opportunity,” said Gibson, who gave up his first NHL goal to new teammate Patric Hornqvist in 2016 while with the Islanders. “Anywhere I can go and play, I’ll be happy to go and play and help the team out as much as I can. Hopefully I’ll get a chance here. … They said to come in here, do my best and we’ll see what happens.”
NOEL, PRISKIE PROMOTED
Another player who excelled on Wednesday was Serron Noel who scored the game-tying goal with 42.2 seconds left and then won the game for Florida in the shootout.
He was up on the first squad Thursday as well.
With Maxim Mamin out after leaving practice early on Tuesday, Noel slid in on the fifth line with Ryan Lomberg and Juho Lammikko.
Defenseman Chase Priskie also had a very good game against the Stars and was with the top group as well replacing Matt Kiersted on the fourth defensive pairing with Kevin Connauton.
“We had a couple of move-ups based on what we have seen at camp,” Quenneville said. “Serron had a great camp prior to coming here and two really solid games. It’s a reward basis.
“(Chase) was involved in there both offensively and defensively, he had confidence and had the puck a lot. Both of his games have been an improvement over what we saw last year.”
— Quenneville said most of Florida’s injured players — Joe Thornton, Anton Lundell and Mamim among them — were progressing and should join the team for practice in the coming days.
He did not have an update on defenseman Lucas Carlsson who left Wednesday’s game in the second period with a lower body injury.