WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — The Florida Panthers struggles against the Carolina Hurricanes in 2021 continued on Saturday morning in the opener of the Tampa Bay Lightning Prospect Showcase tournament.
Carolina, which beat the Panthers in five of seven meetings this past NHL season, got two goals late in the second period against Spencer Knight to eventually win 3-1.
Goalie Eetu Makiniemi, a fourth-round pick by Carolina in 2017 who has spent the past two seasons playing in Liiga, had a shutout going up until the final minute when Florida pulled Knight and finally put on a sustained offensive attack in the Canes’ zone.
Defenseman Robert Calisti, a junior player on a camp invitation, got the Florida goal off an assist from Logan Hutsko with 56.5 seconds left.
Makiniemi wasn’t really threatened by the Panthers for much of the second half of the game although he did stop a driving Karch Bachman with 3:03 left.
In the second, Carolina got three power play chances and finally cashed in on No. 3.
With 7:40 left in the period in the waning seconds of the power play chance, Ryan Suzuki one-timed a shot past Knight to make it 1-0.
Suzuki was a first-round pick by the Hurricanes in 2019 and spent last season playing in the AHL.
Justin Robidas gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead with his shot from the left circle with 2:19 remaining in the period.
Prior to those two goals going in, Knight was terrific — and, he really didn’t have much of a chance at stopping either of the two goals in the second period.
The Panthers, trailing 2-0 going into the third period, gave Carolina its fourth power play chance of the game just 56 in and Stelio Mattheos deflected a shot in to put the Hurricanes up three at 2:36.
The first period ended up scoreless although the Panthers got a number of scoring chances — especially as the period went along.
Florida had a pair of power play opportunities in the opening period and the first one — which came midway through the first — did not generate much.
The second one did, however, with Anton Lundell getting off a couple of good scoring chances including a slap shot from the right circle.
Matt Kiersted also had a nice chance up front.
Knight was solid throughout the first period although he wasn’t the busiest goalie in the world as Carolina only mustered a couple of legit scoring chances.
Obviously that would change as Knight was peppered throughout the second.
The Panthers (0-1) face the Nashville Predators in the second game of the three-game showcase Sunday at 10 a.m.
Florida Panthers Prospect Showcase roster
91- Eric Alarie, 85- Karch Bachman, 41- Henry Bowlby, 14- Grigori Denisenko, 89- Logan Hutsko, 15- Anton Lundell, 54- Justin Nachbaur, 18- Serron Noel, 78- Simon Pinard, 79- Cole Schwindt, 24- Justin Sourdif, 75- Connor Trenholm, 84- Trevor Wong.
47- Frédéric Brunet, 38- Robert Calisti, 88- Max Gildon, 6- Braden Hache, 8- Matt Kiersted, 36- Jacob LeGuerrier, 53- John Ludvig, 12- Evan Nause.
60- Olivier Adam, 39- Tye Austin, 30- Spencer Knight
Prospect Showcase schedule
At AdventHealth Center Ice in Wesley Chapel
- Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators | 2 p.m. — at Amalie Arena, Tampa
- Nashville Predators vs. Florida Panthers | 10 a.m.
- Carolina Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning | 1 p.m
- Nashville Predaotrs vs. Carolina Hurricanes | 10 a.m.
- Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning | 1 p.m.
Tickets: Open to the public
AdventHealth CenterIce: 3173 Cypress Ridge Boulevard, Wesley Chapel