Sunrise, FL – We’re back at the BB&T Center for a new Florida Panthers season. Now under new management! The Panthers are off to a decent start in their 2019-20 campaign under new head coach, Joel Quenneville, at 2-2-2, coming back from a deficit in their last three games to take four of six possible points. That’s in stark contrast to previous seasons where Florida started on a bad note, having to make up ground in the 2nd half of the season, only to come up just short of making the playoffs. Tonight, however, the Panthers fell in OT, blowing a two-goal lead in a hard-fought 5-4 loss to a Colorado Avalanche team with zero regulation time losses (6-0-1).
New Season, New Beginnings
Immediately following the ending of last season, Florida relieved coach Bob Boughner of his duties and signed coach Joel Quenneville to a five-year, +$30Million contract. Quenneville most notably won three Stanley Cup Finals with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, ’13, and ’15. He also came in as the 2nd winningest coach in NHL history with 890 wins. Ballin’! (or is it puckin’?) Last season was also Roberto Luongo’s final season with the Panthers, leaving a void at the position. With no clear heir-apparent left as a replacement, Florida acquired Sergei Bobrovsky in a blockbuster signing, luring him away from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
— Lemon City Live (@LemonCityLive) October 18, 2019
A Familiar Foe
In a rematch of the Panthers’ only trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996, the new-look Cats showed us what the preseason hype was all about. Contrary to their slow starts from previous seasons, tonight the boys came out like gangbusters. Jonathan Huberdeau opened up the match in the 4th minute, extending his point streak to six games. He famously finished last season with 92 points, becoming only the 4th Panther in franchise history to do so, alongside his PIC Captain Aleksander Barkov, who accomplished the feat in the same season, putting up 96! Five minutes later, Frank Vatrano scored a SH breakaway goal to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead. Colorado followed up two minutes later when Joonas Donskio scored for the Avalanche. However, Huberdeau would once again find the back of the net four minutes later, during a line change, securing his rat-trick and giving the Panthers a 3-1 lead going into the 1st intermission.
The 2nd period was all Colorado. Matthew Nieto, which is probably how your grandma has you saved in her phone’s contacts if your name is Matthew, scored midway through the 2nd period. It was almost immediately followed by an Andre Burakovsky goal, evening up the score for the Avalanche. Brett Connolly would help Florida regain the lead, but it was shortlived, as Burakovsky showed up to play in the 2nd period with his best Huberdeau impression, scoring his 2nd goal of the period and tying up the game 4-4.
Things Fall Apart
It all came down to the 3rd period, but nothing happened, so overtime was where it’s at! That’s not what the Panthers wanted though. Florida has lost every match outside of regulation this season thus far and tonight was no exception. Nathan Mackinnon stepped up, and assisted by Burakovsky put the Panthers to sleep, earning their 2nd OT win of the season, 5-4.
— Lemon City Live (@LemonCityLive) October 19, 2019
Following the game, coach Joel Quenneville said, “We know we can score goals, we have to keep the pucks out of the net. We have to play the right way.”
Next up, the Florida Panthers travel to face the Nashville Predators, tomorrow at 8 pm. Nashville is 4-3-0, looking to bounce back from a 5-2 loss on the road yesterday to the Arizona Coyotes.
- The Panthers went 0-4 in Power Plays.
- Panthers outshot the Avalanche 44-41.
- The game might’ve come down to the goalkeepers. Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer saved 40-44 (90.9%) shots, while Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky saved 36-41 (87.8%) shots.
📸Credit: Eliot J Schechter