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FHN Today: Florida Panthers, Charlotte Checkers Both 1-0

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Charlotte Checkers/Florida Panthers graphic courtesy @FlaPanthers

The Florida Panthers opened their season with a 3-1 win against the host New York Islanders on Thursday, then watched their Charlotte Checkers beat the visiting Hartford Wolf Pack 4-3 in overtime on Friday night.

The Checkers got two big goals from Anton Levtchi, last season’s leading scorer and MVP of Liiga who was one of the first cuts of Florida’s training camp.

With the Panthers not having any roster space, Levtchi was not making the team out of camp anyway.

But he may play into Florida’s plans in the near future.

Levtchi showed some real nice hands on the game-winner as he took a pass from Riley Nash along the boards, walked in on Louie Domingue and flipped a backhanded shot past him.

Charlotte was down 3-2 in the game before Chris Tierney scored at 12:28.

Aleksi Heponiemi, who had a solid impressive showing in camp, continued his scoring streak by getting Charlotte’s first goal of the season.

Heponiemi scored in each of Florida’s final two preseason games before being placed on waivers last Sunday.

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J-F Berube made the start for the Checkers, making 19 saves for the win.

He is expected to start again Saturday as Alex Lyon serves the final game of his AHL suspension for his double-bird salute during the Calder Trophy celebration last July while with the Chicago Wolves.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW

Matthew Tkachuk had himself a pretty memorable debut with the Florida Panthers on Thursday night as he had 15 shot attempts before he put a bow on the 3-1 win by scoring into an empty net with 1:15 remaining.

“It’s nice to get the first one, but goal or not, that’s how I want to play,” Tkachuk said.

”The team I play on, the style we played, everything was pretty amazing. After one game, I feel like I’ve played with these guys for 10 years. It was not an adjustment at all. I barely even played in the preseason, so it’s just a credit to all the guys and the environment I’m surrounded in.

“I’m just so lucky.”

— Check out the FHN YouTube channel RIGHT HERE — and hear from Paul Maurice, Sam Bennett and Anton Lundell following Friday’s practice in Buffalo.

— The Panthers have an early wakeup call today and an afternoon date with the Sabres.

NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW

The Calgary Flames snapped a 12-game losing streak in season-opening games and a lot of credit can go to the new guys.

You know who we’re talking about.

In case you do not, MacKenzie Weegar had a pair of assists and Jonathan Huberdeau had one.

— Should we be talking playoffs and the Detroit Red Wings in the same sentence?

— The Boston Bruins will be without Jake DeBrusk this weekend.

— Evgeni Malkin gets free hats and really fast linemates with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

— Defenseman Travis Sanheim signed a big deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, getting eight years and $50 million.

— The Vegas Golden Knights brought back the glitz as they held a gold carpet event for the first time since 2019.

— The San Jose Sharks brought up William Eklund with Timo Meier being hurt.

— Injuries to Mike Matheson and Joel Edmundson are giving Kaiden Guhle a big opportunity with the Montreal Canadiens.

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT BUFFALO SABRES

  • When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
  • Where: KeyBank Center; Buffalo, N.Y. 
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM HD-2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 3-0
  • All-time regular season series: Buffalo leads 52-46-5, 4 ties

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