PITTSBURGH — When the Florida Panthers needed him the most, Sergei Bobrovsky was there once again.
And they called his number a lot during their 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
In a game which devolved into chaos following a Kris Letang hit that sent Sasha Barkov into the boards, Bobrovsky faced 18 shots on eight different penalty kills.
After allowing a goal on the first shot he faced, he stopped the other 17.
Power play goals from Evan Rodrigues and Sam Reinhart had the Panthers in the driver’s seat for most of the rest of the way.
”They are going to do anything they can in front of him to not let a puck get to the net,” coach Paul Maurice said of the penalty kill.
“But especially against a group with the skillset that group has, there’s going to be some pucks that he’s got to do something special with.
”And he was good.”
In the second period in particular, Bobrovsky was on the money.
After the Panthers took four-straight penalties while taking their shots at Letang for his hit on Barkov, Bobrovsky stopped all 12 shots he faced.
“We know he’s a good goalie and we build our game around him,” Oliver Ekman-Larsson said.
“We are defending hard in front of him, but he’s an All-Star. He’s been there all year, he’s unbelievable.”
The penalty killers in front of Bobrovsky did their jobs, clearing bodies away from the net and letting Bobrovsky do his thing with clean shots to the net.
“There was a lot of penalty kill reps and I thought the guys did a great job,” Bobrovsky said.
”I thought it was one of those games where the score was tight, 1-1, and every moment is a big moment. And I thought the guys did a great job defensively. They protected the middle very well there and they let me see the puck.”
While an Evgeni Malkin goal from the doorstep with 41.5 seconds to go tied the game and eventually sent it to overtime, this will be remembered as a game where Bobrovsky stepped up and took over when it mattered most.
He stopped two of the three shots he faced in the shootout after an uneventful 3-on-3 overtime frame and helped the Panthers to a win after Barkov and Reinhart picked up goals in the shootout.
“He’s an All-Star,” Kevin Stenlund said.
”He’s our No. 1 goalie and obviously he showed today that he is a great goalie.”
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FLORIDA PANTHERS AT NEW YORK ISLANDERS
- When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: UBS Arena, Elmont, N.Y.
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
- Last Season: Florida won 2-1
- This Season — At Florida: Islanders 4, Panthers 3 (Dec. 2.); March 28. At Islanders: Saturday
- All-time Regular Season Series: Panthers lead 56-34-11, 8 ties
- Next Up for the Panthers: Feb. 6 vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m.