Sunrise, FL – Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Panthers’ 1st season, back in 1993! The team brought out 15 of the original members for a pregame ceremony, led by the original captain, Brian Skrudland. This season we’re here from the start, and we’re hoping our mojo will carry on from last season! It was a sad day when we strolled into the BB&T last year to watch the Florida Panthers face the Buffalo Sabres, already knowing that the Cats were eliminated from the playoffs. The Panthers were only one point out of the final wild-card spot, finishing the season with 96 points, which is an NHL record for a team missing the playoffs. Oy vey… In that last home game’s recap, I wrote “The Cats won 21 of 31 games since we started covering the team on Feb. 3rd, and they have gone 15 of 18 at home! If only we had shown up sooner”. Indeed, the Panthers led the league in wins during that span, and since we pride ourselves on learning from past mistakes, this time we showed up from the start!
— Lemon City Live (@LemonCityLive) October 11, 2018
The Cats opened the season against last season’s Atlantic Division champs, the Tampa Bay Lightning. They lost in overtime, earning one point. Unfortunately, we can’t travel to away games. Tonight, in their home opener, the Panthers faced off against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus was the team that had the one-point advantage on the Cats last season, leaving them out of the playoffs, so Florida might have some payback on their minds.
However, The Cats didn’t get off to a great start. Columbus defenseman, Zach Werenski put the Blue Jackets up in minute 13:29 of the 1st period, off a Columbus 5v3 power play. Four minutes later, Columbus center, Artemi Panarin increased the lead, off a pass from Pierre-Luc Dubois. Not to be outdone, new Captain, Aleksander Barkov fed the Cat Daddy, Evgenni Dadonov for the 1st Panthers home goal of the season!
— Lemon City Live (@LemonCityLive) October 12, 2018
The Cats rolled into the 2nd period on the momentum gained from their last goal. They knotted up the game in minute 6:29, but this time, Barkov scored off a Dadonov assist! The Panthers went on to score two more, the go-ahead by Troy Brouwer, followed by a Columbus game-tying goal, and then Nick Bjugstad put the Panthers ahead again before the 2nd period was over! 3-4, Panthers.
The 3rd period was rough for the Cats, and our “Lemon City Live Mojo” must be a bit rusty. We’ll work on that, but the Panthers allowed the Blue Jackets to once again foil their plans, as Columbus scored two goals to defeat Florida 5-4. The Panthers gave up two power-play goals, and the new Captain Aleksander Barkov said, “We’re a good team… but those mistakes cost us.” However, the two 3rd period Blue Jacket goals were even strength, with the Panthers having a 3-4 lead. Playoff teams capitalize off of opportunities like that, and last season shows that every game is important. Coach Bob Boughner said in his post-game presser, “We scored four, it should be good enough to win.” It’s a long season, and the Cats will have plenty of opportunities to show that they are one of the better teams in the NHL. Today, they fell 5-4 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Next up, they’ll face off against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, Oct. 13th. Puck drops at 7:00 PM.