The Florida Panthers got their first win of a young season on Monday night as Sergei Bobrovsky was exceptionally strong in net and Sam Reinhart scored twice in a harried 4-3 win over the host New Jersey Devils.
Bobrovsky was, in a word, fantastic before (and after) things started to go a little haywire.
Luckily, the Panthers built a four-goal lead by early in the third.
They needed every one of those goals.
Bobrovsky had 20 saves through the first 40 minutes and were up 4-0 before the high-powered Devils made their run. He ended his night with 31.
Carter Verhaeghe and Niko Mikkola also scored in the win.
The Panthers, who went 1-2-0 on this opening road trip, will have Tuesday off before returning to practice Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Florida took a 1-0 when Reinhart scored the 200th goal of his NHL career after scoring in front of goalie Vitek Vanecek off a nice pass from Evan Rodrigues.
Verhaeghe made it 2-0 on a sweet drive and dish with Mikkola getting his first Florida goal in the second.
Matthew Tkachuk had the primary assist on both of those goals.
That was all the run support Bobrovsky would need as he looked sharp from the get — he had to make a quick save not long after the puck was dropped — as he frustrated the high-powered Devils throughout the night.
The Panthers did get a power play goal early in the third, Reinhart deflecting in a long shot from Oliver Ekman-Larsson 59 seconds in.
New Jersey finally broke through in the third while on the power play as Erik Haula knocked in a hard shot from Jack Hughes and put it through.
Not much Bobrovsky could have done on that one.
Soon afterward, New Jersey made it a 2-goal game when Michael McLeod knocked in a Haula shot which got past Bobrovsky on a delayed penalty at 8:52 of the third.
With Nick Cousins in the box with 4:04 remaining, the Devils pulled their goalie and put on a full-on assault and ended up scoring with 2:23 left on their 6-on-4 — which was hampered as Kevin Stenlund lost his stick.
Jersey kept the net empty — only the Panthers failed to find it.
Yet, they got the win and that’s all that mattered.
For Bobrovsky, that was his 106th win with the Panthers — tying him with John Vanbiesbrouck for second all-time in franchise history behind Roberto Luongo.
Coach Paul Maurice also took over third place for all-time NHL games coached as he passed Joel Quenneville with No. 1,769.
GOALS OF THE GAME
- Panthers 1, Devils 0 (3:54, 1st): Sam Reinhart picks up his second of the season — and 200th of his career — by camping out in front of the net and knocking in a pass from Evan Rodrigues. Five points in three games with the Panthers. Not bad.
- Panthers 2, Devils 0 (13:12, 1st): Carter Verhaeghe also gets his second of the young season, driving in on Vitek Vanecek and beating him with a sweet backhanded shot.
- Panthers 3, Devils 0 (7:52, 2nd): Matthew Tkachuk finds Niko Mikkola in front of the net and the big d-man has his first goal with the Panthers.
- Panthers 4, Devils 0 (0:59, 3rd PP): Oliver Ekman-Larsson sent a hard shot in from inside the blue with Reinhart getting a piece of it for a 4-0 lead.
- Panthers 4, Devils 1 (3:35, 3rd PP): Erik Haula deflected a Jack Hughes point shot past Sergei Bobrovsky on Jersey’s 24th shot of the night.
- Panthers 4, Devils 2 (8:52, 3rd): On a delayed penalty, Haula pulled back and fired; Bobrovsky appeared to make the initial save but the puck snuck away and Michael McLeod was right there to sweep it in.
- Panthers 4, Devils 3 (17:37, 3rd PP): Jesper Bratt scores on the 6-on-4 after Bobrovsky had made one huge save after another.
GR’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME
1. Sergei Bobrovsky (31 saves), Florida
2. Sam Reinhart (2 goals), Florida
3. Erik Haula (goal, assist), New Jersey
PANTHERS ON DECK
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last Season: Toronto won Regular Season Series 3-1; Florida won Eastern Conference Semifinals 4-1
- This season: @Florida, Thursday/April 16; @Toronto, Nov. 28/April 1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Toronto leads 48-36-7, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Vancouver Canucks, 7 p.m.