SUNRISE — A few days ago, Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice said he hoped to get one of his goalies on a bit of a heater.
Spencer Knight is certainly warming up.
Wednesday night, Knight made 40 saves as he recorded the third shutout of his young career in leading the Panthers to a 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes — a fitting opponent what with Nicole creating a mess outside FLA Live Arena.
The Panthers are 4-0-1 in Sunrise this season as they kicked off a five-game homestand in style and beat a 2022 playoff team for the first time.
Knight did not get a whole lot of offensive help although Sasha Barkov’s power play goal midway through the third off a give-and-goal saucer pass from Carter Verhaeghe certainly gave the Panthers a little breathing room.
Nick Cousins got his first with the Panthers just over nine minutes into the game and from then on, it was Knight Time.
“He got stronger as the game went on and he was required to be,’’ Paul Maurice said of Knight.
“That’s a good sign for any goaltender, (especially) a young man to be able to build his game like that.’’
Added Barkov: “(Getting a shutout) is something we want to do every game and it doesn’t happen every game. But it is special when a goalie gets a shutout and it is a pretty special game.”
Knight has helped the Panthers in their past two wins as he got the W on Sunday and Anaheim before stymying the Hurricanes.
Maurice said Tuesday that he wanted to see one of his goalies have the opportunity to go on a bit of a run and gave Knight the start in consecutive games.
Do not be surprised if the 21-year-old is back in net Saturday against the high-flying Edmonton Oilers.
Knight was sharp from the jump and only got better as the night went along.
Carolina brought its best in the third when it got three power play chances and threw 18 shots on goal.
Knight did not seem phased.
Nor does he ever.
“Shutouts can be overrated. I’m just trying to find a way to win,” Knight said. “I have felt confident winning 5-4 and sometimes you win 3-0. It was a good team effort. The D did a great job, the forwards did a great job coming back. Everyone did bought in. We knew it was going to be a close game and … our guys played well.”
Carolina pulled Antti Raanta with 2:53 remaining and came hard at Knight and the Panthers.
Florida had a number of chances at the open net on the other side as its defense played a strong game throughout.
Finally, it was Sam Bennett salting things away with less than five seconds remaining on the clock.
Fans left the building chanting — and sang in the rain.
“It was not the best weather but we appreciate all the fans coming out and supporting us,” Barkov said.
“We’re going to need that. I appreciate everyone coming.”
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Spencer Knight, Florida (40 saves, shutout)
2. Sasha Barkov, Florida (goal, six SOG, 60% FO win)
3. Nick Cousins, Florida (game-winning goal)
PANTHERS ON DECK
EDMONTON OILERS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Split 1-1
- All-time regular season series: Edmonton leads 21-14-0, 3 ties