The Florida Panthers did not like their start Wednesday night nor were they really fond of the way they played in the second period.
The third and overtime?
They were cool with that.
Thanks to a great pass from Gus Forsling to a driving Evan Rodrigues early in the third, the Panthers forced overtime in Washington and got a Sam Reinhart goal 15 seconds in for a 4-3 win.
Florida has quietly been piling up the points of late, improving to 7-4-1 with at least a point in six of their past seven.
The outlier was a 5-2 loss in Chicago this past Saturday.
Since starting 0-2, the Panthers have gone 7-2-1, picking up 15 of the available 20 points.
It may not be meteoric rise, but it is certainly something worth watching.
Especially with Carolina and Chicago visiting Sunrise in the coming days before the Panthers take off for a three-game California adventure.
“These are two games that weren’t always pretty from start-to-finish,’’ said Reinhart, referring to Florida’s 5-4 OT win over Columbus on Monday after the Panthers surrendered a 3-0 first-period lead.
“We had our moments and stuck with it. Those are the type of points that are huge at this time of year and will pay off later. We know how big it is to come out of the gates and start banking points early.’’
Florida trailed 1-0 early on the first of two goals from Anthony Mantha — this one off the leg of Anton Lundell before finding its way past Sergei Bobrovsky.
But the Panthers led 2-1 going into the second after Oliver Ekman-Larsson got the equalizer and then Barkov scored off a nice play in the corners from Reinhart.
The second was not Florida’s finest period, however, as the Caps scored twice — once off a shorthanded goal and a second on a turnover/breakaway from Mantha.
Washington did not score again.
Rodrigues tied the score, Bobrovsky made 10 of his 25 saves in the period and the two were off to overtime.
The Panthers have now won two of three in OT this season — and are 4-0-1 in goals decided by a single goal.
Of Florida’s 12 games thus far, 11 have been decided by 2 goals or fewer.
“It’s not going to look perfect right now and we do not have that expectation,” coach Paul Maurice said. “Going into the third, we’re looking to get that game even. We’re not looking for style points.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
CAROLINA HURRICANES @ FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, WPOW 95.6 FM2,WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last Season — Regular Season: Carolina won 2-1; Eastern Conference finals: Florida won 4-0.
- This Season: @Florida Friday; @Carolina Feb. 22, March 14
- All-Time Regular Season Series: Carolina/Hartford leads 71-46-10, 11 ties
- Postseason History: Florida 1-0 (2023 ECF)
- Up Next for the Panthers: Sunday vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.