Five Takeaways from Panthers blowout win against Lightning

SUNRISE – After more than a week away from game play due to the All-Star break, the Florida Panthers traded in their flip flops for hockey skates as they returned to FLA Live Arena to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in another edition of the Battle of Florida. 


The Cats didn’t miss a beat from their last game, the Jan. 28th comeback win against the Boston Bruins tonight against their cross-state rivals. 


2023 All-Star Game MVP Matthew Tkachuk continued his dominant season with a five-point night in the Panthers 7-1 win. 


Here’s tonight’s takeaways.

No post All-Star slump for Matthew Tkachuk 

On Saturday night, FLA Live Arena belonged to the Panthers’ star forward Matthew Tkachuk.


No. 19 won All-Star MVP with his seven point performance across the two games the Atlantic Division played in the All-Star Game.


Two nights later he was back in the same building with a little more at stake.


Tkachuk finished the night with two goals and three assists, pushing his season point total to 71.


“I have a really good understanding of Matthew as a player,” said head coach Paul Maurice. “He’s an elite, elite talent.”


It took Tkachuk 60 games last season to reach 70 points with Calgary. He hit that tonight in game number 50. 


Carter Verhaeghe is creeping in on 30 goals 

Season three with the Panthers is proving to be the best one for Carter Verhaeghe. 


The 27-year-old was sitting on 26 goals entering tonight’s game against his former club.


Verhaeghe potted two more goals tonight, on top of two assists, bumping his career-high goal total to 28 this season. 


As long as he stays on the ice, it’s looking like a sure thing he hits the 30-goal milestone, with 40 not out of the possibility.


His teammates spoke about how effective Verhaeghe has been offensively. 

“He’s got so much speed, so it’s all about hitting him in the right spots in the offensive zone,” Tkachuk said about Verhaeghe. “He’s got such a great shot so it’s actually really easy to play with him.”


Aleksander Barkov injury scare

In the second period, Panthers’ captain Aleksander Barkov took a puck off the hand, which sent him to the locker room. 


Barkov did not return to the game following the blocked shot.


Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said Barkov probably won’t skate tomorrow, however they don’t think this is going to be a long-term injury. 


Sergei Bobrovsky makes 30 saves in his return

The Panthers starting goalie hasn’t seen game action since he got injured in the opening minutes  against Montreal on Jan. 19th. 


Tonight in his first start since then, Bob slammed the door on Tampa, stopping 32 of 33 shots faced.


“There was a tip early in that first period that he got his pad out on, [he was] real big on the penalty kill,” said Maurice on Bobrovsky’s game. “The right saves at the right time are so critical, especially against a powerful team like that.”


Bobrovsky’s movement was smooth across the crease; it didn’t look like there were any lingering issues from the injury that kept him sidelined for the last three weeks. 


Spencer Knight, who hasn’t played an NHL game since Jan. 8th in Dallas was the backup tonight, Florida sent goaltender Alex Lyon down to Charlotte (AHL). Lyon played in the last six games for the Panthers. 


Net front presence wins the game

When a team wins by six goals, it’s a little harder to pinpoint where they were most dominant.


What jumped out to me was how aggressive the Panthers were in front of the Lightning net. 


Goals from Tkachuk, Bennett, Luostarinen and Staal all came from around the Tampa crease. 


Florida is a fast team that is good off the rush, but when they are able to be the aggressor in 1-on-1 battles, it can change the dynamic of their game.


“The Luosatarinen goal is the way goals are scored in the playoffs and or I just say at this time of year, it gets harder and it’s a grind game” said Maurice. “Pucks from the point, pucks in the net front, Luostarinen’s tip, that’s the future of the way we have to score.”

Atlantic Division wins 2023 NHL All-Star Game, Matthew Tkachuk takes home MVP in Sunrise

SUNRISE – The 2023 NHL All-Star weekend came to an end on Saturday night in South Florida, with the host team fans going home happy in more ways than one.


The championship game saw the Atlantic Division, represented by Florida Panthers’ stars Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk, take on the Central Division All-Stars.


In the final, catalyzed by a Matthew Tkachuk goal 37 seconds into the game, the Atlantic stormed to a four-goal lead. They’d be able to hold onto their big cushion, defeating the Central 7-5 to take home the win and the $1 million bonus.


It was the first time the Atlantic won the All-Star game since the NHL moved to the 3-on-3 divisional format in 2016. 


Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk led all skaters with seven points across the two games. His efforts were more than enough to win All-Star game MVP.


During the pair of games, Tkachuk played on a line with Barkov and his brother Brady. 


“Getting to play with Barky and getting to play with Brady, it was just fun from the start,” said Tkachuk. “We had an unreal time… I really, really enjoyed it (All-Star weekend).” 


The Tkachuk brothers have never played together in a competitive environment before Saturday’s game. With the newest honorary Tkachuk brother Aleksander Barkov on their line, the trio combined for 16 points on the night.


“It was actually fun, I wasn’t expecting that,” Barkov said about playing with the two brothers. “[They are] two great guys, off-ice especially and on the ice we had a lot of fun. You never felt like you had any nerves because you were having fun and enjoying every second.” 


The weekend as a whole was a success for South Florida. The All-Star game was a sellout, with 19,250 fans in attendance. The league also brought in a record 7,000 guests during the week, according to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.


Bettman said on Saturday that the estimated economic revenue from the weekend for South Florida is in the $25-$30 million range. 


Florida Panthers CEO Matthew Caldwell was more than satisfied with the way the events turned out over the week.


“I know Toronto’s got it next year but let’s get it back,” Caldwell chuckled. “ We love throwing events like this… as soon as Vinny [Viola] bought the team we’ve been trying to get an All-Star game.”


The NHL will return to action on Monday night, with the Panthers and Lightning starting it off in another edition of the Battle of Florida in Sunrise.

2023 NHL All-Star Skills Competition Results

SUNRISE: FLA Live Arena played host to the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night. 


We saw movie references, a dunk tank and a putting green amongst other events.


Here’s the results of the competitions:

Fastest Skater – Andrei Svechnikov

The first event of the night saw five skaters do a timed lap around the arena, with the two fastest players advancing to the finals. 


Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov clocked in the fastest time in attempt one, while LA’s Kevin Fiala followed him to the finals with the second best time.


The championship round saw Svechnikov finish on top again, clocking in at 13.69 seconds. 


Breakaway Challenge – Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby 

Outfit creativity was on point in this challenge. Toronto’s Mitch Marner really took Miami Vice to another level when he came out in a James Crockett suit. 


Boston’s David Pastrnak wouldn’t let Marner outdo him with the entertainment references. Pasta paid homage to Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore, wearing the Gilmore Bruins jersey and putting away a putt into the back of the net. 


Hometown guy Matthew Tkachuk pulled out all the tricks for his attempt. Not only did he bring out his brother Brady, he also involved Panthers’ captain Sasha Barkov, former Panthers’ goalie Roberto Luongo and Miami Dolphin star Christian Wilkins. 


The winner of the competition would be Alexander Ovechkin and his son Sergei, who involved Sidney Crosby in their breakaway challenge.


Tendy Tandem – Connor Hellebuyck and Juuse Saros 

This new event sees one goalie shoot the puck from behind the goal-line, while the opposing division’s goaltender attempts to stop an “odd-man rush” coming the other way.


The Central Division tandem of Connor Hellebuyck (WPG) and Juuse Saros (NSH) took home the win.


Accuracy Shooting – Brock Nelson

The accuracy shooting contest initially started off with ten players. Only the top four times would advance to the final round. 


Edmonton Oilers’ captain Connor McDavid demolished round-one, going 4/4 in under ten seconds.


In the semi-final, McDavid went 4/4 again,  however Nazem Kadri was a step quicker, knocking McDavid out of the competition. 


The final saw Brock Nelson defeat Kadri to win the competition.


Splash Shot – Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar

In a very beach themed event, NHL players attempted to sink each other into the water by shooting pucks at a dunk tank.


Colorado Avalanche teammates Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar continued their winning ways when they won the Splash Shot challenge from Fort. Lauderdale beach.


The most impressive feat from the competition may have been New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin using a goalie stick to shoot the pucks.


Hardest Shot – Elias Pettersson

The favorite entering the hardest shot competition was Washington Capitals’ captain Alexander Ovechkin.


The winner would not be the Great 8, but Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson.


Pettersson clocked back-to-back triple digit speeds, with the winning speed coming in at 103.2 MPH.


Pitch ‘n Puck – Nick Suzuki

This pre-taped event combined two sports that have often been intertwined, hockey and golf.


Players made their way to the golf course, teeing off with hockey sticks rather than drivers.


Montreal Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki put away the birdie putt to clinch the title.The most impressive feat from the competition may have been New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin using a goalie stick to shoot the puck.

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ win over Canadiens

MONTREAL: The Panthers ended their three game road trip with a dominating 6-2 win over the Canadiens in Montreal. 


The team will head back home to face Minnesota on Saturday night before jumping on the road again for another away back-to-back.


Here’s tonight’s takeaways.


Early injuries for the Panthers

Florida saw two of their veterans leave the game in the first period, both of whom did not return.


In the opening minutes of the game, goaltender Sergei Bobrosvky appeared to hit his foot against the post when sliding over to the opposite side of the net.


He left the game at the next whistle, leaving Alex Lyon in goal the rest of the way.


Later in the period, when Eric Staal was chasing a puck in the offensive zone, Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson laid a reverse hit on Staal.


Staal did not have possession of the puck when he took the hit.


 The 38-year-old was slow to get up and eventually went to the Panthers’ locker room.


Both players will get looked at tomorrow, per head coach Paul Maurice.


Alex Lyon comes in relief for Bobrovsky

With Sergei Bobrovsky leaving the game in the first two minutes, the usual Panthers’ third-string goalie Alex Lyon had to play pretty much the whole game. 


Lyon has been the Panthers’ backup goalie with Spencer Knight on IR, however he has not played in a game this season with Florida.


The 30-year-old goalie played a solid game, finishing the night with 23 saves on 25 shots.


Lyon had no problem jumping into the game after Bob went down.


“I think experience goes a long way,” Lyon said.  “Just getting into more of those situations, you get more confident. Just trust yourself and trust the things that make you good and just stay in the moment.”


Power play goal fest 

The biggest area of domination for the Panthers tonight was on the man-advantage. 


Florida scored four goals on the power play, with two of those coming from Matthew Tkachuk. By the time they scored the last power play goal, it was a five goal game.


The Panthers took their time on the PP; controlling the puck, feeding the open man and shooting with open lanes. 


“We had good patience on the power play,” Paul Maurice told the media.


Brandon Monotur hits his career-high in points

It has a fantastic season for Panthers’ defenseman Brandon Montour.


On Tuesday night in Toronto, the 28-year-old tied his career-high point total at the 44 game mark of the season.


Two days later in Montreal, Montour surpassed his previous best, as he now sits at 38 points in 45 games. Last season was his best year to date, with 37 points in 81 games.


As he sits top-10 in defenseman scoring league wide, Montour is on pace to shatter last season’s point total.  


The game turned physical, lots of fights

Montreal and Florida really have no history between each other. 


Besides a few trades and former players playing on both teams, there’s not alot there.


This season on the other hand has seemed to ignite a new fire between the two sides.


In tonight’s game, it was anything but clean hockey. The third period had three fights, there were bodies flying everywhere, the game had more than the usual bad blood.


By the end of the night, there were 90 combined penalty minutes, with Montreal’s 57 being the majority. 


Panthers’ forward Ryan Lomberg was one of the players who dropped the gloves in the game.


“Two teams that are close in the standings pushing for that spot…they’re a good team, it’s competitive,” Lomberg said. “We love that type of game and we’re pushing for the playoffs here so we’re trying to play a playoff style game for sure.”

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ OT loss to Leafs

TORONTO: In a game that was anything short of ordinary, the Florida Panthers dropped a hard fought game to the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime.


Between the interesting calls in the game and the reaction from head coach Paul Maurice, this game was something to talk about. 


Here are the takeaways.


Penalties, penalties and controversy?

By the second period, this game had so many penalties called we started to lose count. 


The story of tonight’s game was all about the officiating. 


Between 30 combined penalty minutes, confusion on which team received the penalty, on top of questionable calls.


Panthers coach Paul Maurice spoke about the questionable officiating in tonight’s game.


I don’t know what the hell those guys were doing tonight but it wasn’t Florida Panther friendly.”


Maurice continued, “I just explained to them [his team], it had nothing to do with my players, it had to do with me and the relationship that I have with one of the referees, that’s what that was all about,” he said. 


At the end of the night, Florida had 18 of the 30 total penalty minutes in the game.


Brandon Montour ties his career-high in points

The Panthers’ defenseman has been having a career season on the blueline. Tonight in his 44th game of the season, he got point No. 37, which ties his career best.


Last season, Montour finished the year with 37 points in 81 games. In nearly half the amount of games, he has reached that.


“He is an incredibly elite skater, above and beyond what you normally see,” Paul Maurice said. “He’s starting to use that speed, that skating to defend. When he does that, he’s going to be a star.”


The Brantford, Ontario native has been one of the best players for the Panthers this season and comfortably sits top to in points by a defenseman in the NHL.


“He’s calm, he’s confident,”  Aaron Ekblad said about Montour. “I love Monty’s game and it’s a treat to play with him.”


Cats pick up points in three straight games

While Florida wasn’t able to string together that third-straight win tonight, which would’ve been their first winning-streak of the season, the team has picked up five of a possible six points over that three game stretch. 


“I feel like we’ve been finding our identity a little bit,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “I think the last two, three weeks we’ve been kind of finding how to play as a team, how to work really hard, play smart.”


The Panthers next opponent is a Montreal team that they defeated a few weeks ago 7-2 at home. Florida has a great chance to pick up more points on the road on Thursday.


Panthers get second short-handed goal of the season  

Florida’s penalty kill was extremely busy tonight and they fared pretty well considering they had seven power plays to kill, keeping the Leafs to two goals on those attempts.


The short-handed goal department hasn’t been explosive this season, with Florida only having one tally on the kill to their name prior to tonight, which belonged to Anton Lundell. 


Lundell was able to make that number two tonight, as he scored the team’s second shorty of the season, off a nice link up play on the kill between him and Barkov.


Barkov didn’t convert on the initial breakaway attempt after stealing the puck in the neutral zone, however his linemate and fellow countrymen were right behind to put away the rebound.


Lundell has goals in back-to-back games. 


Grigori Denisenko is working hard to stay in the lineup

Tonight was the second game in a row that saw Grigori Denisenko in the lineup. He replaced a struggling Colin White yesterday in Buffalo and retained his spot on the third line tonight in Toronto.


The former first-round pick of the Panthers hasn’t been able to make his mark in the NHL yet, however you can see the clear improvements in his game and why the team wants him in the lineup now.


Denisenko played a hard fore-checking game and his game down low led to him picking up an assist on Josh Mahura’s goal.


Paul Maurice said he likes the type of puck control game that Denisenko brings to the table.


“He’s hard on pucks and he’s strong on pucks and I’m really trying to work on some puck control here, not throwing pucks away,” Maurice said. “He’ll hang onto a puck… he’s got the understanding on how hard you have to work to be a good player and he’s starting to do it, so we’re pretty excited.”

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ 4-2 loss to Knights

VEGAS – Florida ended their four game road trip in Thursday night with a 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Panthers finished the trip with a 2-2 record.


They’ll return home for a Saturday night clash against the Vancouver Canucks before hitting the road again for a trio of Atlantic Division matchups.


Here’s tonight’s takeaways. 


Florida survived Vegas’ first period attack

Florida entered the first intermission with a 1-0 lead, but it wasn’t a dominating period for the Panthers by any means. 


Vegas didn’t take their foot off the gas in the opening period and they were pretty much all over the Panthers for the first half of the period.

Even with a one goal deficit, the Knights stuck to their game; hard fore-checking, clean breakouts and puck possession in the o-zone. 


Sergei Bobrovsky weathered the storm of high-quality Vegas chances, stopping all 14 shots he faced in the first.


Florida strikes on their first man-advantage 

The first power play of the game for either side came midway through the second period. 


With Florida on the man-advantage in a tied game that saw Vegas dominating to that point, a successful power play would be very helpful to change the flow of the game.


On the back end of the power play, Aleksander Barkov fed a streaking Sam Bennett a glorious look at goal, but the play was ended by Knights’ goalie Adin Hill. On the play, Hill lost his stick while another Knights’ player broke his, leaving the Knights exposed around the crease.


The Panthers used the Knights’ misfortune to their advantage. Matthew Tkachuk hit an uncovered Sam Reinhart in the bumper position and Reinhart buried the shot past Hill, giving the Panthers a 2-1 lead.  


The Anton Lundell wing experiment is working 

This is game number two in which Anton Lundell is playing on Aleksander Barkov’s wing. 


Paul Maurice decided to move the natural centerman to the wing in order to “Take some pressure off of him being down low.”


With Lundell not having the same defensive responsibilities he would need as a center, the ice is opening up for him and it was very clear that was the case tonight. 


Lundell appeared to have given the Panthers a 3-1 lead in the second period after he roofed a shot on a tight angle into the net. However, following a Vegas coaches’ challenge, the play was deemed offsides and the goal was taken off the board. 


Despite the disallowed goal, the play showed how much space Lundell has when he’s playing along the boards. 


A few minutes later, Lundell and Barkov played an aggressive gap near the Knights’ blueline. Barkov caused the turnover and stretched a breakaway pass to Lundell. If Lundell was playing down the middle, that play probably wouldn’t have occurred since he would’ve been playing lower in the zone. 


Panthers fail to convert on a third period 5-on-3

Florida had a glorious opportunity to put their stamp on this game in the third period.


The hot Panthers had 1:44 of 5-on-3 power play time in a 2-1 game. In such a tight game, just one goal would’ve given Florida some breathing room.


The Panthers had their top unit out there for nearly the entire man advantage but could not find the back of the net.


On the other side of the ice, Vegas picked up the momentum off the big kill.


It only took a few minutes after the kill to find the equalizer, off a Jack Eichel breakaway goal.


The Knights odd-man rushes proved troublesome for the Panthers 

Looking back to the effective breakouts from Vegas tonight, the area where they really had Florida on their toes was off the rush. 


The Knights had plenty of odd-man rush chances in the game, whether that was two-on-ones, three-on-twos or breakaways.

Jack Eichel’s tying goal in the third came via an offensive zone mishap by the Panthers blue line and a subsequent neutral zone lapse by the defense.


The same exact play happened later in the period with the same pairing, only this time the crossbar kept the Knights out of the goal.

Vegas would get the go ahead goal with 2:36 left in the third and seal the game away with an empty netter.

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ dominating win over Canadiens

SUNRISE: The Florida Panthers put a close to their 2022 at home tonight with a dominant 7-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Panthers will play Friday night in Carolina before starting the new year at home against the New York Rangers.


Here’s tonight’s takeaways: 


Barkov returns with a career-night

The Panthers were without captain Aleksaner Barkov for three games after he was injured Dec. 17 in New Jersey.


In his first game back since the injury, Barkov did not wait long to put his stamp on the game. 2:37 into the first, Barkov took a point-shot from Gustav Forsling off the leg, and into the Habs net. 


Later in the period, with the Panthers on the power play, Barkov let a shot fly from the circle and buried it past Montreal goalie Sam Montembeault. 


Still in the first period, with Barkov now on hat trick watch, No. 16 put away his third goal of the period, and the hats rained from the rafters of FLA Live Arena.


Barkov finished his night back with 5 points, tying his career-high.


The boys are back in town – Gudas, Barkov, Ekblad

A few weeks ago it seemed like every night there was another player coming out of the Panthers lineup, while AHL call ups were coming in.


After a few additional days without a game following the holiday break, the Panthers got some of their big boys back; Barkov, Ekblad and Gudas.


Barkov had five points tonight, while Ekblad and Gudas shaped what has often been a depleted blue line this season. 


“The guy had no points but Radko Gudas has a huge impact on that game tonight in terms of the minutes we have to play the other defenseman,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “Having those guys come back, it felt a little bit like the first game of the season in some ways, so there’s an excitement going out.”


Let the power play bells ring

With Florida having what was as close to a full lineup as possible tonight, they had all their top guns out there on power play unit 1. 


The top unit delivered tonight, scoring on three of their attempts of the game, on goals from Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk (x2). 

With Montreal also having luck tonight on the power play, these goals were important for Florida. 


Matthew Tkachuk increases his team lead in points

It was a quiet few days for Matthew Tkachuk as the Panthers forward was going through his worst scoring drought of the season… three games. 


Tkachuk made up for lost time tonight with four points, including two goals on the power play, right in front of the net.


“I think he was raised right to be at the net,” Aleksander Barkov said. “He knows where to be and what to do there, so it’s great to have that type of guy on the team.”


The 25-year-old now has team-high 44 points in just 33 games this season.


Tonight’s game felt a lot more like last year’s Panthers team

The 2021-2022 Panthers scored more goals than any team in the 2000’s. This year’s team however hasn’t been able to run away with games like they did last year.


Florida had a jump in their step from puck-drop and it looked like they were hungrier on the puck than Montreal. 


Led by Barkov’s first period hat trick and an early second period goal by Matthew Tkachuk, Florida was in the driver’s seat.


The icing on the cake was an extremely dominating third period by the Cats, where they scored three goals while preventing Montreal from generating anything around Bobrovsky even-strength.  


The night ended with a mid third period Pepas appearance, a seven goal performance and a “we want 10” chant from the Sunrise crowd.  

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ loss to Devils

SUNRISE:  Two days after losing 7-3 in Boston, the Panthers dropped their second game in a row to the New Jersey Devils 4-2 at FLA Live Arena.


The visiting Devils were able to snap their six game losing streak, while the Panthers have dropped three of their last four games at home. 


Here’s tonight’s takeaways:


Eric Staal scores in consecutive games

This December has been a good one for Eric Staal.


The veteran forward has tallied 8 points in 11 games this month. In the 16 previous games, he failed to get a single point on the scoresheet. 


After signing with the team towards the end of October, the Panthers have had to rely on his services frequently with all the injuries they have suffered. It was a rough start to his Panthers career, however his recent production in the stat column has been fairly consistent heading into the holiday break


Florida gets Anton Lundell back  

The 21-year-old center has missed the last nine games due to a non-COVID illness. Tonight was the first game Lundell has played since Dec. 1 in Vancouver. 


The Finn didn’t seem to have any issue jumping back into the flow of things tonight. He played 14 minutes and was able to get on the scoresheet with an assist on Eetu Luostarinen’s goal.


“[It] felt great, it’s been a really long time. Tough time to be out,” Lundell said. “I’m finally happy that I’m able to join the team.”


He was also penalized with his first career NHL fight, though Lundell wasn’t sure if he’d count it as a tilt. 


“I don’t know if it counts as a fight or a wrestling match but whatever,” he added. 


Mackenzie Blackwood flipped the script of the game with key saves in the third

The Devils goaltender ended the night with 34 saves on 36 shots. 


The Panthers really peppered him around the front of goal, however he stood tall to keep it a one goal game when the Devils were trailing 2-1. 


He was able to make a flashy glove save on Ryan Lomberg in front of his goal. If that went in, the Panthers would have taken a two goal lead.


Less than a minute after that big save, the Devils went the other way and tied the game of of Jesper Bratt’s second goal of the game. 


With the Panthers down 3-2, they pulled the goalie for an extra attacker in the dying minutes of the third. The Cats had chances in high-scoring areas, but Blackwood slammed the door and the Devils put away the game with an empty netter. 


Sam Bennett’s puck control game was on full display

A big standout for me tonight was Sam Bennett’s composure on the puck. 


As the Panthers moved up the ice in transition, Bennett was really good at weaving around the Devil’s players to open up the ice. 


When Eetu Luostarinen scored to put the Panthers up 2-1 in the second, Bennett diced through the neutral zone, chipped the puck to himself on the boards, avoided a check and spun into open ice to hit a streaking Luostarinen. 


A huge part of Bennett’s game is his skating ability with the puck. That was evident tonight. 


Eetu Luostarinen gets one goal closer to surpassing his career-high 

It’s been a sort of breakout year for 24-year-old Eetu Luostarinen. 


He played the majority of last season as the fourth line center, which meant his ice time wasn’t ideal to showcase his skills. 


This season he was pushed up to the top-9 as a winger. With the increased ice time and role on the team, Luostarinen has shined. 


Last year, he finished the season with 9 goals in 78 games. In his 34th game of this season, Luostarinen buried his 8th.


He’s just one goal away from equaling his career-high goal total and we aren’t at the halfway point of the season yet. Luostarinen is on pace to shatter last year’s goal total. 

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ loss to Penguins

SUNRISE: The Panthers were back at home on Thursday night to faceoff against the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins, who came to Sunrise riding a six-game win streak.


Backstopped by a strong goaltending performance and a multi-point night from their captain Sidney Crosby, the Penguins defeated the Panthers 4-2, extending their win streak to seven.


Here’s tonight’s takeaways: 

The illness bug continues to bite the Panthers

Injuries aside, because this team is heavily affected by it, the Panthers have been getting hammered by the “non-COVID” illness bug. 


Florida has seen many of their big time players miss time due to illness over the last few weeks. 


Last game Carter Verhaeghe was out of the lineup; Anton Lundell hasn’t played since Dec. 1 in Vancouver, and Spencer Knight just returned to the lineup tonight after nine days. 

The Panthers had to play tonight’s game without their leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk, who is out with… an illness.


Florida had to roll 11 forwards tonight, even with today’s call up of Aleksi Heponiemi. 


Even strength scoring belonged to the Panthers

In a 4-2 loss, Florida came out on top in one category – 5-on-5 goals. 


Both of Florida’s goals tonight came at even-strength. Their opponent on the other hand, didn’t score a single one of their goals at 5-on-5.


All four of the Penguins’ goals came when they were either up a man, or down.

Pittsburgh scored twice on the power play, once shorthanded and iced the game with an empty net goal when Florida had an extra attacker. 


Tonight was a goalie battle

For fans of the man in the crease, this was the game to watch. Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry and Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky both battled hard to keep their team’s in the game.


For the visiting team, Jarry was the star of the game for Pittsburgh. The Pens goaltender had 32 saves on the night and kept the Panthers special teams off the scoresheet. 


Florida had a flurry of good looks in the second period, but Jarry slammed the door shut, as Pittsburgh took that period 2-0. 


On the other end of the ice, Sergei Bobrovsky started his fifth straight game, finishing the night with 35 saves and three goals against, two of which came from a Pittsburgh powerplay. 


Both goaltenders saw multiple odd-man rushes tonight and respectively followed many of those chances with big time saves.  


Ryan Lomberg played a solid game with a depleted forward lineup

Ryan Lomberg always puts in a valiant effort no matter how much ice time he gets. With 11 forwards in the lineup, two of which just came from the AHL over the last few days, the Panthers played Lomberg over 14 minutes tonight.


The 5 ‘9 forward started the game off hot with his linemate Eric Staal. The pair seemed to have a lot of chemistry with each other tonight and it paid off as they connected for the first goal of the game.

A falling Staal was able to get the puck towards goal before Lomberg was able to beat Jarry up high on a tough angle. 


Lomberg plays a fast, hard fore-checking game and tonight it was evident on how much work he does along the boards and corners.


Florida lost the game on special teams

While winning the even strength game tonight, Florida’s downfall was their special teams performance.


With the lineup having so many guys going in and out this week, the Cats had to do lots of line juggling for the special teams units. 


“We have had a different power play unit pretty much every game for the last four,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurcice said. “Start putting that together at five o’clock because the guys are coming to our lineup so late.”


On the penalty kill, Florida conceded two goals as the Penguins finished the night 2/3 on the power play. 


Florida had three power play chances of their own, however not only did they go 0/3 on the  man-advantage, they also gave up a shorthanded goal to Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang, which tied the game at one early in the second period.


The special teams battle killed the Panthers who played a relatively strong even-strength game. 

Five Takeaways from Panthers’ win over Blue Jackets

SUNRISE: It’s been a struggle as of late in Pantherland. Florida had dropped three of their last four games, as they sat in the bottom half of the tight Atlantic Division standings entering Tuesday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


The Panthers were able to  shake off their shaky play from last week tonight, defeating the Blue jackets 4-0, despite missing key players on both sides of the puck.


Here’s the takeaways:

Grigori Denisenko makes his season debut

When Florida took Grigori Denisenko 15th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, they would have liked to see their first-round pick be a consistent force in the lineup a few years down the line. 


While Florida’s next two first-round picks, Spencer Knight (2019) and Anton Lundell (2020) have both become relied upon players in the lineup, Denisenko has only skated in nine NHL games so far.


Earlier today the Panthers announced that they recalled Denisenko from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). With Carter Verhaeghe out of the lineup tonight, the 22-year-old Denisenko made his season debut. This is only the second NHL game he has played in the last two seasons. 


Denisenko finished the night with 13:14 TOI – while getting an opportunity to play on power play unit 2. 


“I was fine with his game,” HC Paul Maurice said. “He got a bunch of minutes and he held water and was fine.” 


Multiple Panthers leave the game with injuries

 After playing just 1:06 in the first period, Colin White’s night was done. 


The Panthers announced during the first intermission that the forward would not return to the game due to an upper-body injury, leaving the Panthers with 11 forwards for the rest of the night. 


Florida were already short-handed upfront entering the game, with Anton Lundell (illness) and Carter Verhaeghe (illness) being out of the lineup, in addition to Patric Hornqvist and Anthony Duclair (hasn’t played this season) still being on LTIR.


To add salt to the wound, early in the second period, Chris Tiernery took a hard hit near center ice, resulting in him heading down the Panthers tunnel. He would also not return to the game. 


The injury woes continue to hurt the Panthers this season. Florida has had to make multiple call ups in the last two weeks, with the likes of Zac Dalpe, Chris Tierney, Matt Kiersted, Aleksi Heponiemi, Grigori Denisenko and Alex Lyon all going between Charlotte and Florida over the last 10 days. Depending on the availability of those who were out of commission tonight, there could be some more moves coming. 


Matthew Tkachuk, the multi-point king

The most consistent player on the Panthers season has been the starboy Matthew Tkachuk. 


The team leader in points added to his impressive season total, getting a goal and an assist tonight. In 28 games, Tkachuk has 39 points. 


On top of that, he extended his multi-point game total this season to 14. 


With the Panthers forwards unit being plagued with injuries, Tkachuk has been able to contribute consistently, no matter who is on his line. 


Sergei Bobrovsky gets the shutout

Bob got the net again tonight, making it his fourth straight start in goal. 


Facing his former team, Bobrovsky stopped all 22 shots he faced in his first shutout of the season. 


“I felt good, it’s a big, big two points for us… I thought the guys did a great job, they shut them down, they didn’t give them anything,” Bobrovsky said. 

Spencer Knight skated this morning with the team but was not in the lineup as he has been out with an illness for the last two weeks. The Panthers practice tomorrow ahead of their Thursday night game against Pittsburgh, so there is a possibility Bob gets the night off, with Knight getting back into the net.


Gustav Forsling hits a career milestone 

After being placed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes before the start of the 2020-2021 NHL season, Gustav Forsling has completely transformed his career with the Florida Panthers.


Tonight, Forsling assisted on Brandon Monotur’s goal, giving the Swedish defenseman his 100th career NHL point, in his 266th game.


Forsling very well could be the best Bill Zito acquisition.  Forsling flew under the radar during his three season spell with the Chicago Blackhawks to start his NHL career. However, after three seasons in Sunrise, Forsling has emerged as a legitimate top pair defenseman, playing top minutes every night against the best players in the world.