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.