SUNRISE — Roster battles continue to brew for the Florida Panthers as they reach the midway point of their eight-game preseason.
Florida played the second of the three games it scheduled to have its fringe-NHL players battle it out for positioning.
Some of the biggest storylines continued to play out.
Led by 2021 first-round pick Mackie Samoskevich, Florida ousted Carolina 4-2 to move to 3-1-0 on the preseason.
What was more important was how well those who are jockeying for position played.
Anthony Stolarz made 27 of 29 saves in his preseason debut after being brought in via free-agency to compete with Spencer Knight for the backup goaltending job.
Multiple players stepped up on the defensive end as well.
As the Panthers prepare to cut their roster to 28 players on Monday, the next two games are the final opportunities for a lot of these players to show they belong on the opening night roster.
Here are some observations from the Panthers’ 4-2 preseason win over the Hurricanes:
- Mackie Samoskevich was the best player on the ice on Friday night. His speed and agility outclassed most of the roster of fringe-NHLers and prospects Carolina dressed, creating numerous breakaways. He scored on one with a really nice backhand move. He was great defensively as well, making a couple important plays with his stick to snuff out Carolina rush opportunities. The 20-year-old looks NHL ready.
- John Ludvig had a solid all-around performance, blocking two shots, taking two shots and throwing a hit. He excels at limiting space for opportunities on penalty kills and, well, getting in front of shots. He has blocked eight of them in three preseason games.
- Anthony Stolarz stopped 28 of 30 shots in his preseason debut and had some great saves in there. The magnum opus was a glove save he sprawled out for after an Uvis Balinskis turnover caused a breakaway for Carolina.
- Steven Lorentz was a difference-maker on both sides of the ice, throwing three hits, blocking two shots and going eight-of-14 in the face-off dot. He capped off the performance with a shorthanded breakaway goal while continuing to build his case to earn time on Florida’s penalty kill unit come the regular season.
- Matt Kiersted was steady on both sides of the ice, making solid defensive plays and blocking three shots while earning an assist on the game-winning goal with a shot from the point.
- Santtu Kinnunen created multiple opportunities with his excellent vision while his speed and agility shined on the defensive end.
FLORIDA PANTHERS (3-1) ON DECK
PRESEASON VS. OTTAWA SENATORS (3-1)
- When: Sunday, 4 p.m.
- Where: Centre 200; Sydney, Nova Scotia
- TV/Radio: NHL Network/560 WQAM