Going into Tuesday’s game against San Jose, the special teams numbers for the Florida Panthers were none too impressive.
The power play stood at 10 percent which ranked 25th in the NHL and the penalty kill was at 66.7 percent (28th).
Most of the game against the Sharks came at 5-on-5 so the numbers did not change much.
Florida did get a power play goal from Sam Reinhart which stood as the game-winner and the Panthers did kill off a key penalty (minus two key penalty killers in Sasha Barkov and Eetu Luostarinen) in the third which turned out to be the difference.
As the Panthers get deeper into the season and new faces start to gel a little more, there is a hope things are about to change.
With Florida getting Sam Bennett, Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour back as things rolls on will certainly help.
On Tuesday, the penalty kill was impressive despite giving up a gimme goal to Fabian Zetterlund with 5 seconds left in San Jose’s first power play of the night.
Yet as it did against Toronto two games earlier, the Panthers had to withstand an intense barrage at the end with the opposing net empty and Luostarinen in the penalty box.
With goalie MacKenzie Blackwood on the bench a minute into that late power play, San Jose had a 6-on-4.
In the home opener against Toronto, Kevin Stenlund took a shot in the noggin to help preserve the win.
Against San Jose. it was Niko Mikkola who used his head to turn away a shot.
In the Toronto win, Reinhart iced the game with an empty net goal.
Against San Jose, it was Stenlund who did the honors.
In discussing the team’s PK after the San Jose game, coach Paul Maurice spoke about the late game effort.
“We needed it,’’ Maurice said. “With Luostarinen in the box and Barkov out, (Matthew) Tkachuk fills in on the hole so – we’ve been fighting for it. We’ve got 1:50, 1:55 of the first one killed (before the Zetterlund goal) but it’s in your mind now.
“Confidence is just as important on the kill as it is on the power play, so, good for those men. They could feel good about that.”
All three Florida wins have been by a single goal when you exclude ones into the empty net.
Maurice is complimentary of the team’s skill in scratching and clawing but likely would appreciate some breathing room as well as a little more care to avoid late-game penalties.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been doing a valiant job in quarterbacking the first power play unit but there is no doubt that Ekblad and Montour are sorely missed there.
PANTHERS ON DECK
SEATTLE KRAKEN @ FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WAXY 790-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL App
- This Season: @ Florida, Saturday; @ Seattle, Dec. 12
- Last season: Tied 1-1
- All-time regular season series: Seattle leads 3-1-0
- Up Next for the Panthers: Monday at Boston, 7