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Best. Start. Ever. Florida Panthers 4, Colorado Avalanche 1

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The Florida Panthers have won their first four games — including three at home — for the best start to a season in franchise history. // Roger Lee Photography (561) 866-2000

Sergei Bobrovsky’s impressive start to the season only amplified Thursday night as the Florida Panthers goalie stopped 30 shots to beat the visiting Colorado Avalanche 4-1 in Sunrise.

Bobrovsky is now 3-0 as the Panthers have won their first four games to begin the 2021-22 season — the best start in franchise history.

That’s right, 4-0 eclipses last season’s 3-0 start which had been the franchise mark for all of about nine months.

The win was also No. 300 for Bobrovsky in his NHL career.

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Florida will try and go 5-0 on Saturday when it visits Keith Yandle and the Flyers in Philadelphia.

On Thursday, the Panthers got on the board first thanks to some serious hustle from Mason Marchment — who not only saved an icing but fed Sam Reinhart for his first goal with his new team.

Marchment flew down the ice and beat Samuel Girard (we’ll get to him later) into the corner for the puck. He then spun, fired a pass to Reinhart who drove it home.

Florida’s goal came at 8:45 of the period and they only had a handful of good scoring chances against Jonas Johansson the rest of the way.

Colorado, however, had a couple prime-time chances and probably should have taken a 3-1 lead into the first break.

Had it not been for Bobrovsky, it probably would have.

Bobrovsky ended the period with 11 saves including a breakaway from J.T. Compher which came off a blocked Kevin Connauton shot at center ice that quickly went the other way.

Colorado also had a few other scoring chances from down low that Bobrovsky stopped although with 53.9 seconds left in the period, Girard got one through to tie the score.

Bobrovsky may have been even better in the second period than he was in the first, stopping all 12 shots he faced including not one but a pair of 2-on-1s as well as a barrage of shots around the net midway through.

Florida gave Bobrovsky some runs to work with in the second as well.

Sam Bennett got Florida’s second power play goal of the season, strolling into the slot and rifling off a shot from 25 feet out with Patric Hornqvist running blocker in front of goalie Jonas Johansson — who was pretty good this night as well.

Up 2-1, Carter Verhaeghe gave the Panthers a little more breathing room in the final minute of the second as he battled for the puck along the wall, kept possession as he slid into the slot and squibbed a shot that seemed to surprise the Colorado goalie as it trickled on in.

In the third, Colorado’s Jack Johnson sent Hornqvist into the wall — the two, despite being teammates briefly in Pittsburgh, have a history — but the Panthers were unable to do anything with the power play.

The Panthers also failed to score on the power play they got when Gabriel Landeskog — fresh off a two-game suspension for boarding — boarded Aaron Ekblad.

But, the Panthers did possess the puck for much of the two minutes as the clock continued to tick and the Avs unable to mount any sort of comeback.

When Johansson was pulled in the final two minutes, Florida quickly made them pay for it with Anton Lundell getting his second goal in as many games by tossing the puck into the empty net with 1:13 left.

Colorado, Vegas’ odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup this year, is now 1-3 after losing its past three since winning the opener against Chicago last week.

 

GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME

1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida

2. Sam Reinhart, Florida

3. Sam Bennett, Florida

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

  • WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.
  • WHERE: Wells Fargo Arena, Philadelphia
  • TICKETS: CLICK HERE
  • TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
  • RADIO: 99.9 FM-2
  • 2021 regular season series: Did not play
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