The Florida Panthers played their final preseason game with a minor league-heavy lineup as they prepare to seriously trim their roster to 28 players on Monday.
The Panthers did take quite a few familiar NHL faces as they visited Sydney, Nova Scotia, for a clash with the Ottawa Senators, however.
Anton Lundell headlined the roster Florida sent to the Maritimes to put on a show for a bunch of fans who do not have a hometown NHL club.
But at the end of the day, it was Drake Batherson and the Senators who took the spotlight as they won 4-2.
Batherson scored a goal and three assists in the same arena he played junior hockey in for the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
“There were lots of kids cheering you on and it gave us a ton of energy,” Lundell said after a packed crowd watched the Panthers take the ice for a Sunday morning skate.
“It was fun thinking back to when I was a kid, thinking about how if I had the chance to see an NHL game, it would be pretty special.”
Here are some observations from Sunday afternoon’s game:
- Anton Lundell was far and away the best player on the ice for the Panthers. He created opportunities for himself multiple times with his speed, bursting into the slot twice and finishing the game with seven shots and two goals.
- Mackie Samoskevich picked up two assists after making some solid reads in the neutral zone. His pass through two Ottawa defenders to send Lundell streaking down the ice really showed that he is not afraid to take risks to make plays — and he has the skill to execute them.
- Spencer Knight stopped 27 of 30 shots and handled himself well overall. Of the goals he gave up, he was screened heavily on a cross-ice feed on one and could not get back on a redirection from the front of the net on the other. Both of those are hard to pin on him. He made a few incredible saves as well, including a sprawling glove save on a Josh Bailey one-timer.
- Systems-wise, the power play has been slow to get going overall throughout the last three preseason games and it showed on Sunday. A sluggish Panthers power play went 0-for-4 and squandered a chance on a 5-on-3. But this is nowhere near a concern until the main roster players suit up for the final three preseason games.
- William Lockwood picked up an assist while being a productive flank option alongside Lundell and Samoskevich. For a smaller player, Lockwood has shown that he is not afraid to dig for pucks in corners and throw the body around. Perhaps he gets a longer look while Florida tries to narrow players down for its fourth line.
UP NEXT FOR THE FLORIDA PANTHERS (3-2)
PRESEASON VS. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (3-1)
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Amway Center, Orlando
- TV/Radio: None
- Streaming: FloridaPanthers.com
- Previous Exhibition Games: Florida 5, Nashville 0 (Sept. 25); Florida 5, Nashville 2 (Sept. 25); Carolina 4, Florida 1 (Sept. 27); Florida 4, Carolina 2 (Sept. 29); Ottawa 4, Florida 2 (Oct. 1)