A day after goalie Scott Clemmensen underwent a minor knee surgery, all eyes were on the rookies who are vying to replace him on the Panthers roster on Tuesday.
Jacob Markstrom decisively won this battle although the Florida brass will be looking at more than just a preseason performance in deciding who ends up backing up Jose Theodore for the first month of the season.
Markstrom stopped all 10 shots he faced in the first half of Florida's exhibition game against Dallas on Tuesday night, turning the net over to Tyler Plante with a lead midway through the second. The Stars scored three goals in a seven minute span of the second against Plante and ended up getting a fourth in overtime to beat Florida 4-3 in overtime at BankAtlantic Center.
Down 3-1 in a chippy third period that featured 12 penalties – including two game misconducts – between the two teams, the Panthers got goals from rookie Jonathan Huberdeau and third-year defenseman Dmitry Kulikov within a 35 second span late in the period to force overtime.
Michael Ryder won it off a 2-on-1 break with 1:11 remaining in the extra frame.
Plante gave up a goal on the first and fourth shots he saw on Tuesday as the Stars quickly turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. Plante, who gave up one goal in a half game against Nashville last week, stopped 12 of 16 shots in 30:09 of work.
The Panthers are 1-3-1 this preseason with their exhibition finale coming Thursday at AmericanAirlines Center in Dallas.
Markstrom looked shaky in Florida's 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Friday but was strong on Tuesday as he kept his movement to a minimum and made some nice stops on the Stars. Barring a trade, Florida will keep either Plante or Markstrom to start the season. The other will go to the Panthers' AHL affiliate in San Antonio.
“The only thing I can do is play my best. We'll see what happens,'' Markstrom said. “It's always good to stop them all when they come at you quick like they did. I've been waiting for the opportunity to play again. This was my first game at BankAtlantic Center. That's always fun.''
The game was marred by a slew of penalties as the two teams combined for 24 penalties worth 79 minutes. “This game was about special teams,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.
The Panthers were playing without a handful of regulars on Tuesday, including Stephen Weiss, Matt Bradley (flu-like virus) and Ryan Carter (groin). Evgeny Dadonov and Keaton Ellerby, who are both expected to make the Panthers roster, were held out so the Panthers could look at younger players. Mike Santorelli left the game with an unknown injury. “He's going to be sore for sure in the morning,'' Dineen said.
Michal Repik and Steven Reinprecht both cleared waivers on Tuesday, with Repik being sent to the Panthers AHL camp in San Antonio.
Reinprecht remains with the Panthers, although his future in South Florida is most likely over. Reinprecht was signed to a three-year deal by then-GM Randy Sexton in 2009 and was Florida's leading scorer early in the 2009-10 season. But he was benched for the first three games of last season and ended up being waived by the Panthers and loaned to a pro team in Germany midway through the 2010-11 campaign.
General manager Dale Tallon said that Reinprecht will have some say in where he ends up although it could be San Antonio if Tallon can't find an NHL home for the veteran center. Reinprecht will make just over $2 million this season regardless of where he plays.
“It's a matter of numbers. Steven has to be a top six forward to be successful with us and we feel we have a lot of those,'' Tallon said. “He came into camp ready and played hard. It was just a numbers game at this time.''
(-) Quinton Howden, the 25th overall pick of the 2010 draft, was sent back to his junior team in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, on Tuesday after missing all of training camp with what the Panthers say is a minor neck injury. Howden participated in rookie camp but was knocked out of the first rookie game against Nashville by a strong hit.
“I'm disappointed for him that he got hurt,'' Tallon said. “But we know who he is. It's better to have him at 26 than at 18 or 19. We're high on him. He's a great kid. It's just unfortunate for him. We have a lot of NHL players and he didn't have the time to show his wares. We're in this together for a long time with him.''
(-) If the Panthers want rookie Jonathan Huberdeau to start this season with the big club, he needs to be signed to an entry level deal by Monday. The Panthers were unable to come to an agreement with defenseman Erik Gudbranson by last year's deadline and he was returned to his Canadian junior team.
“We spoke [with agent] briefly on Monday,'' Tallon said of Huberdeau, the third overall pick this past summer.
“We're really going to wait until Friday. If he makes our team, we're going to try and get something done.''