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Sergei Bobrovsky: Florida Panthers ‘Made Me a Star’ in 4-0 Shutout

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Ryan Lomberg congratulates Sergei Bobrovsky after the Florida Panthers shutout the Colorado Avalanche 4-0, on Saturday night in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

SUNRISE — As the final seconds ticked off the clock Saturday night, Florida Panthers fans showered Sergei Bobrovsky with chants of his new nickname.

It’s not just ‘Bob’ anymore.

“Bob-by! Bob-by!” rang through the arena.

Bobrovsky, an All-Star for the third time this season, made 35 saves in his 41st career shutout, lifting the Panthers to a rousing 4-0 victory over the high-flying Colorado Avalanche.

Those chants continued well into his postgame interview with Bally Sports Florida’s Katie Engleson. 

It got to the point where Bobrovsky had to pause mid-answer and thank the crowd.

Bobrovsky had a big smile on his face.

“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Bobrovsky said. “I appreciate the support, I appreciate the cheering because it’s great for me. But I thought the team made me a star.”

Although the Panthers dominated the puck possession battle, Bobrovsky had a reasonably heavy workload, completely shutting the Avalanche down.

He made 10 high-danger saves with an expected goals-against of 3.44, per Natural Stat Trick.

“We can trust him,” Eetu Luostarinen said. “We can be confident that he is going to make the saves, and we just have to clean up the front of the net.”

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It could have been a different game after Aaron Ekblad took a holding penalty just over two minutes in.

Yet against a star-studded Colorado power play, Bobrovsky made three saves — including two on high-danger chances — and the momentum swung right back in Florida’s direction.

Colorado, it should be noted, came into this one 0-for-12 on the power play since the break.

Bobrovsky and the Panthers did not help those stats.

“It changes everything,” coach Paul Maurice said. “They are the highest-scoring team in the National Hockey League.

“They come out and have a good feeling in the first five minutes because they score on that power play, and you have a completely different animal you have to deal with. And (Bobrovsky) was just right and solid. There are no easy shots on that team. He had to work hard to see even the ones from the outside. If he saw it, he stopped it. He was really, really good.”

The Panthers got their chance on the power play just over seven minutes later and cashed in on it immediately.

Carter Verhaeghe banked in his rebound 30 seconds into the man-advantage off of a slick cross-ice pass by Sasha Barkov with 9:41 to go in the first period.

Sam Reinhart added his 39th goal of the year and his league-leading 22nd power-play goal with 3:04 to go in the first to give Florida a two-goal cushion before the break.

Reinhart has more power-play goals than six other teams in the NHL, and the Panthers’ power play has been clicking at a league-leading 35.9 percent clip since Jan. 4.

“We have great players there who can score, make plays, and move the puck,” Barkov said. “We trust each other and play with confidence.”

Eetu Luostarinen scored his 10th goal of the year to pad the Panthers’ lead further with 2:08 to go in the second period.

It capped off a period Florida dominated, including a 24-10 lead in shots and a 21-9 lead in scoring chances.

Barkov snapped an 18-game goal drought in the third period, forcing a turnover near the front of the Colorado net before moving around goaltender Alexandar Georgiev and patiently waiting him out before drilling it home with 10:40 left.

“It feels good,” Barkov said. “I mean, it’s been a while, but it’s all about working hard and trying to shoot the puck. We have a great team here and it doesn’t matter who scores the goals. As long as we win and as long we play the right way. And, obviously, I’m happy to get one today.”

Bobrovsky made 10 saves in the third period to secure the 41st shutout of his career.

It moved him ahead of New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov for the most by an active Russian goaltender.

“In those moments, I try to remind myself that this is the NHL game,” Bobrovsky said.

“It’s the greatest hockey game that you can see and I play for a great team. So you appreciate all of those things and you appreciate the fans, how many people are watching you, and you enjoy everything and savor the moment.”

ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ PITTSBURGH PENGUINS 

  • When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: PPG Arena, Pittsburgh
  • TV/Streaming: TNT/HBO Max
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series (Panthers Lead 2-0) — At Florida: Panthers 3, Penguins 1 (Dec. 8). At Pittsburgh: Panthers 3, Penguins 2 (SO) Jan. 26; Wednesday.
  • Last Season: Penguins won 2-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Penguins lead 56-37-7, 4 ties
  • All-time Playoff Series: Florida d. Pittsburgh 4-3, 1996 Eastern Conference finals
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday at Buffalo, 7 p.m.

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