With the Panthers’ season on the line against the visiting Lightning, coach Joel Quenneville figured “we’ve got nothing to lose.” So, he bet everything on 20-year-old rookie goalie Spencer Knight with four games of NHL experience and none in the playoffs.
The Panthers beat the Lightning 4-1 in Game 5 at BB&T Center on Monday night, forcing a Game 6 in this first-round series Wednesday in Tampa thanks to Knight’s sterling performance in goal.
The youngest netminder to ever make his NHL playoffs debut in a potential elimination game, Knight made 36 saves, stealing a victory in a way neither two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky nor Chris Driedger could while each started two of the previous four games.
“He won the game for us,” Panthers captain Sasha Barkov said.
The former Boston College standout became the second-youngest goalie to win his first NHL playoff game and the fifth youngest to start and win any playoff game.