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45 posts from October 2013

October 16, 2013

WEDNESDAY'S NOTEBOOK: Tim Thomas Tweeted as Starter v Bruins ... Panthers to Host LGBT Night v Minnesota

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Traveled today so a little light on the notes but the obvious story is Tim Thomas back in net for the Panthers when the Bruins come to town on Thursday.

Thomas played a little bit of hockey for the Bruins back in the day if you recall.

OK, a 'little bit' is a stretch. All Thomas did was lead the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in four decades when the Bs won it in 2011. Thomas also won the Vezina Trophy for the league's top goaltender twice while between the pipes for Boston.

Curious thing though is how we found out Thomas is starting.

Coach Kevin Dineen rarely announces his plans for who is in net and followed suit on Wednesday afternoon. When asked about Thomas going back into goal after missing the past week with a groin issue, Dineen said Thomas was "questionable."

A few hours later, the Panthers sent out a tweet saying Thomas would indeed start -- then changed it to "play" against the Bruins.

No one I've spoken to will tell me definitively that information came from Dineen. So we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Also, Thomas told the Panthers he wouldn't speak to reporters on Wednesday -- and won't talk publically until postgame Thursday night.

David J. Neal (@DavidJNeal) covered the team for me today so I will update here when I see his full report.

-- Also, on Saturday night, the Panthers will host the first 'You Can Play Equality Night' in Sunrise when the Wild come to town.

You can read all about it here on Steve Rothaus' blog as he spoke with Patrick Burke. I'm using new blog software and haven't figured out how to place a link. So if the link below isn't working, just cut and paste into your browser. Thanks for visiting...



October 15, 2013

PANTHERS-PREDS NOTES: Barkov/Jones Rivalry Kicks Off ... Upshall Benched as Bjugstad Returns

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

NASHVILLE -- The focus of Tuesday's game was not of two struggling sun belt teams trying to find their way this season but of the matchup of budding stars.

Florida held the second overall pick in last June's NHL draft and skipped Seth Jones -- the top ranked defenseman available -- and took Aleksander Barkov instead.

Nashville had planned on taking Barkov with the fourth pick but gladly took Jones when the Panthers and Lightning didn't. Jones said at the draft that he "wanted to prove them wrong" and Tuesday was his first shot at the Panthers.

Neither Jones nor Barkov scored, although Jones got an assist on Nashville's second goal. Both were on the ice together for much of the night as Jones was on for 15 of Barkov's 21 shifts.

"It's cool to see the second and fourth picks out there,'' said Jonathan Huberdeau, the NHL's reigning rookie of the year. "Seth Jones is already a good defenseman and we know the skill Barkov has. It's nice to see them battle. They'll be doing that for years.''

-- The Panthers sat veteran winger Scottie Upshall Tuesday as center Nick Bjugstad played in his first game of the season.

Upshall had an assist in Florida's season-opening win at Dallas but is minus-6 since. Upshall, who makes $3.5 million, is signed through next season and has six goals in 59 games with the Panthers.

"I'm just trying to put the best players I can on the ice,'' coach Kevin Dineen said, "to give us the best opportunity to win. That's all that was.''

-- Bjugstad jumped back into the lineup after having just one full practice with the team. Bjugstad missed all of training camp after suffering a concussion Sept. 8. Florida's offensive concerns all but necessitated Bjugstad's quick return. It was thought he would start the season in the minors.

"He was fine,'' Dineen said. "He hasn't played a real game in months and I thought he stepped in and did a solid job.''

With Bjugstad at center, Shawn Matthias moved over to right wing on the third line.

-- John Madden, a center on Florida's division championship team two years ago, worked with the centers during Tuesday's morning skate. Madden is currently a pro scout for the Panthers after working in Montreal's front office last season.

-- After playing five of the first seven games away from South Florida, the Panthers now come home to bask in the sun for the next few weeks.

Florida's upcoming six-game homestand is its longest of the season as the team doesn't play on the road again until visiting Washington on Nov. 2. The Panthers open their long homestand Thursday against Boston.

"Maybe that's what we need to get going,'' Marcel Goc said.

Florida is 1-1-0 at home this year.


MUSIC CITY BUMMER: Panthers Battle, Come Up Short in 4-3 Loss to Predators

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

NASHVILLE -- It's probably a good thing the Panthers never moved to Nashville as was threatened back in the mid-90s while they were wheeling and dealing to get their arena built in Sunrise.

They don't play very well here anyway.

Florida's Music City losing streak continued Tuesday as the host Predators scored twice in the third to break a tie game before winning 4-3 at Bridgestone Arena.

The Panthers haven't won in Nashville since taking the first two meetings against the expansion Preds in 1998 and '99. Florida, the first-ever opponent for the Preds in Nashville, has now lost five straight here.

"We had some chances at 4-3,'' said Jonathan Huberdeau, who started Florida's scoring. "We missed some chances at the end. [Jacob] Markstrom kept us in it. You have to take the positives from this game. We had a good effort. .-.-. We had some lines clicking. We just have to be better defensively to help Markstrom.''

The Panthers, who have lost two straight and five of their first seven this season, played well for much of the night. Nashville, however, turned the momentum in its favor 1:22 into the third when Craig Smith cleaned up a loose puck in front of Markstrom.

Nashville added a power play goal from Patric Hornqvist as he threw a puck at Markstrom's skates and watched it trickle in a few minutes later.

Florida was unable to bounce back from the two-goal deficit as Hornqvist's goal served as the winner.

The Panthers did come close, however, getting a goal credited to Matt Gilroy that went off the stick of Nashville's David Legwand with 8:23 left.

"We're trying to take out the small mistakes,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. "I don't fault the compete level, we've talked about that too much. We had numerous chances with the empty net and their goalie made some big saves.

"We got a 60 minute game. We gave up a bad power play goal that was a savable goal. We need to start winning these games. We need to win.''

Florida trailed or was tied with the Preds throughout the game as Nashville scored the initial goal Tuesday and also led 2-1 before the Panthers came back.

Jonathan Huberdeau got his third goal in four games to lead things off as he charged in on Pekka Rinne and drilled the puck through early in the second.

Mike Fisher scored with 7:12 left in the second to make it 2-1, but Goc answered by chopping at a loose puck in front of the net off a Jesse Winchester offering less than a minute later.

"That wasn't the start to the third we wanted but overall it was a tight game,'' said Goc, who played in Nashville before coming to Florida. "Neither team gave up much. We just couldn't keep the puck in the zone in long enough when we had the advantage. We kept pushing and pushing. We just couldn't crack them.''


October 13, 2013

PANTHERS NOTEBOOK: Bjugstad Playing in Nashville?

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Center Nick Bjugstad was taken off the injured reserve list on Sunday and coach Kevin Dineen said he's being considered to play Tuesday in Nashville.

Bjugstad, who suffered a concussion in a prospects game on Sept. 8, is expected to practice with the Panthers on Monday and a decision could be made on his status following that.

The Panthers were expected to have the 6-foot-6 Bjugstad start the season in the minor leagues. That could still happen, although the Panthers' offensive concerns could lead Bjugstad back to the Panthers earlier than previously thought.

"He will be an option for us on Tuesday night,'' Dineen said. "We're having that discussion. We're looking for big, strong bodies and he's a guy who fits that mold.''

-- Former Panthers defenseman Keaton Ellerby didn't play Sunday as he has been a healthy scratch by the Kings in all six games this season.

Ellerby was sent to the Kings for a late-round draft pick last season after playing 125 games with the Panthers over the course of four seasons.

-- The Panthers will practice Monday morning at the Coral Springs Iceplex at 10:30 a.m. The workout is free and open to the public.

-- Jonathan Huberdeau limped off the ice after apparently being struck by a puck in the second period. Huberdeau did return.

PANTHERS HAVE NO ANSWERS: Kings Roll to 3-0 Win on Sunday Walk in the Park

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Los Angeles Kings have no problems going to overtime to win games but didn't need to on Sunday against the Panthers.

The Kings picked up their fourth win of the year but first in regulation as a pair of second period goals was enough to beat host Florida 3-0.

Los Angeles also scored in the third period but by that goal was no more than showing off as as the Panthers didn't put up much of a fight as they were on the wrong end of a shutout for the second time this young season.

Backup goalie Ben Scrivens now has three shutouts in his career. Two of them have come against the Panthers over the past three seasons. This one took just 20 saves to make.

"We had nothing,'' Tomas Fleischmann said. "Everything we tried to get around the boards didn't happen. They didn't give us much. We knew they would force every line and they did. Our second effort wasn't there. We just couldn't find anything. I don't think we made it very hard for [Scrivens] to get a shutout. That is on us.''

Even though the Kings are used to playing on west coast time, Sunday's early afternoon start seemed OK.

The Panthers obviously didn't warm to waking up -- and never really did. The snooze button was hit repeatedly Sunday as the Kings went about their business.

The Panthers came out with a decent start but then showed little. Florida just six shots on Scrivens in the opening period -- none of which came in the final nine minutes of the first.

Scrivens was making his second appearance of the year but first start in favor of Stanley Cup hero Jonathan Quick.

"Getting off to a good start hasn't been the issue,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. "It's been the level of consistency in our competitive battles. That's a team that recently won the Cup and have a formula that's very simple. They are a big, strong, physical team.

"As the game wore on, we got worn down. That will happen. But our hockey I.Q. dropped. You can not play a fancy game against the Kings, Blues or many teams in the NHL and have success.''

The Kings were opportunistic guests in the second as they quickly made off with the game by scoring twice within a span of six minutes midway through the period.

Daniel Carcillo, who won the Cup with Chicago last summer, took a slick feed from Mike Richards and wristed a shot past Jacob Markstrom (26 saves) at 8:46 of the second.

Justin Williams got in on the act not long afterward as he charged through the slot and popped Anze Kopitar's pass past Markstrom for a 2-0 lead.

Florida had a rare scoring chance early in the third as Brad Boyes broke loose but his shot didn't have much on it and Scrivens knocked it away.

After that, all the Kings needed was a breakaway goal from Jordan Nolan off a Jarret Stoll feed for a 3-0 and a win against a Panthers team that didn't seem all that interested in playing Sunday afternoon.

"They are a tough team to crack and sometimes you win games like this 1-0,'' Brian Campbell said. "They shut things down pretty good. We have to find a way.''


October 11, 2013

PANTHERS NOTEBOOK: Dineen Not Blaming Schedule for Slow Start ... Crabb Sent to AHL

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

SUNRISE -- The schedule makers may not have been kind to the Panthers, not with sending the team on a four game road trip to start the year nor hold their belated home opener on the second night of a back-to-back set of games.

Coach Kevin Dineen is dealing with the schedule the Panthers have been dealt, knowing that his team will "have time to breathe" soon enough. Just not right now.

Florida's home opener Friday marked the team's third game in four nights. Dineen will give his team Saturday off with the Los Angeles Kings here Sunday afternoon.

Although this four game road trip was the longest to kick off a Panthers season, it isn't the longest of the season. Florida will play a five-game road trip next month.

"You see the schedule in July so you know what's coming,'' Dineen said. "You look for the tough stretches and we understood this would be one of them. It's part of it, that's sports. You're in buildings where they have their openers and you get one eventually.''

On the flip side of that, the Panthers will be home for two weeks after returning from Nashville. Florida's six-game homestand, which runs from Thursday until Nov. 1 is longest of the season.

The Panthers also have three five-game homestands this season -- including to end the regular season. So, things will work out.

"We jumped right into the thick of it,'' Dineen said. "There's a lot of action in a short time but that's fun. Sleep in the summer.''


The Panthers sent forward Joey Crabb to their AHL affiliate in San Antonio on Friday, just a day after he played in his first game of the season.

Crabb, 30, has a one-way contract with the Panthers meaning he will be paid his NHL salary ($600,000) while in the minors. Crabb was waived at the end of training camp but wasn't claimed. Crabb is signed through next season.

"He didn't have a good camp, but [the demotion] wasn't based on just one thing,'' Dineen said. "The message I send him is that this isn't a closed door. He needs to go down and get his game in order so he can help this organization.''

-- Dineen said that Nick Bjugstad, out since suffering a concussion Sept. 8 in a prospects game, continues to skate. Bjugstad would need to participate in a few full practices before he could be cleared to play.

The Panthers' next full workout will come Monday morning in Coral Springs.


PANTHERS TAKE OPENER: Florida Drops Penguins 6-3 thanks to Huberdeau, Barkov & Co.

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

SUNRISE -- Jonathan Huberdeau wasn't even crawling when the Panthers played their first home game back in 1993. Aleksander Barkov, well, who knows where he was back then. The Panthers' newest hotshot wasn't born until 1995.

The Panthers are glad those two were around Friday for the team's 20th home opener. It wouldn't have been much of a party without them.

Florida's two youngest guns scored within 66 seconds of each other in the second to help the Panthers snap a three game losing streak with a 6-3 win at BB&T Center. The Penguins had been 3-0.

"That was a great team we played against,'' said the 18-year-old Barkov, whose second goal of the season gave the Panthers a two goal lead. "It was kind of funny to see all the things from 1993."

Said Huberdeau: "I'm following the team. We're both 20 and it's real nice. I think you see the potential within this organization.''

The Panthers, which celebrated highlights of the previous 19 years on their new $4.2 million scoreboard throughout the game, looked like a team that forgot all about Thursday's nightmare in Tampa.

In fact, the Panthers looked like a completely different team. Instead of the squad which was dominated in a 7-2 loss to their cross-state rival Lightning, the Panthers came out flying and took the initial lead for just the second time this season.

The Panthers led the mighty Penguins -- which now employs former Florida coach/GM Jacques Martin as an assistant coach -- for much of the night.

"We've been riding a roller coaster and that's a bad way to be in an 82-game season,'' Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. "We fessed up to some of the deficiencies we've had knowing we has a bullish team coming in. That's an impressive team and it was an entertaining game.

"It was a nice way to start the season for our fanbase, to see a game with that kind of tempo. We're happy with the result.''

Florida took a 1-0 lead less than two minutes in when Brad Boyes scored his third goal of the season after Tomas Fleischmann picked off the puck as the Pens were trying to skate out of their own end.

The Penguins tied it off Evgeni Malkin's goal a few minutes later before the two teams again traded goals; Florida got one from Kris Versteeg at 9:10 of the first and the Pens answered with Craig Adams at 16:49.

The second period was a fun one for the Panthers as they took advantage of a rare (for them, at least this year) 5-on-3 power play chance as Paul Martin and Joe Vitale took penalties not long apart.

Florida scored its first on the power play when Huberdeau knocked a loose puck past goalie Jeff Zatkoff. Just over a minute later, Barkov fired a shot toward the net and the puck hit Martin's leg and found its way into the net.

The Panthers had been 1-for-18 on the power play coming into Friday's game, a big reason they had lost three of their first four.

"I've never scored a goal from behind the net in my life,'' Barkov said. "It was a lucky goal.''

Pittsburgh saved starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for Saturday's game in Tampa. Zatkoff, a rookie making his NHL debut, gave up six goals on 30 shots -- including third period scores to Tomas Fleischmann and Boyes.

Zatkoff is backing up Fleury as former Panthers' goalie and current South Florida resident Tomas Vokoun recovers from blood clots.

Markstrom, making his second straight start since Tim Thomas tweaked his groin, made 36 saves.

"You have to play at a high level to win in this league,'' Markstrom said. "It's always nice to have a couple goal lead. It calms me down a little bit.''


October 10, 2013

PANTHERS ROLL 7s, AGAIN: Stamkos Hits Trifecta as Lightning Roll Panthers 7-2 ... Cats Limp Home for Sunrise Opener

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

TAMPA -- The Panthers kept things close for a while Thursday, trailing by a goal in the second period. But as was the case in St. Louis last weekend, things unraveled and got ugly in a hurry.

For the second time in three games, the Panthers watched an opponent ring up seven goals as they were chased home with a 7-2 loss to Lightning at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

By the time Steven Stamkos scored his third of the night and baseball caps littered the ice around him, it seemed like it had been hours since Florida trailed by just one. Stamkos' hat trick made it a five-goal lead for a Lightning team that celebrated its home opener with plenty of flair.

The Panthers, on the other hand, limp home for Friday's 20th anniversary home opener, one which may have some longing for those expansion days of yore.

Florida has lost three straight and has been outscored an expansion-like 16-3 since beating Dallas last week.

Despite firing coach Denis Savard four games into the 2008-09 season when he was GM in Chicago, Dale Tallon is not expected to relieve Kevin Dineen of his coaching duties despite this rocky start.

"We've been our worst own enemies in the games that haven't been in dispute,'' Dineen said afterward. "We didn't respond well to pressure when they pressured our players. Instead of responding and knowing it was coming, it created turmoil for us. It was hard to find our sync. .-.-.

"They smelled blood when we didn't respond to their pressure. They kept applying it and we didn't stand up to it.''

Don't look now, but things may actually get worse for the Panthers before they get any better. Florida went 1-3-0 before finally heading home -- only to find a well-rested Pittsburgh team waiting.

Sunday brings the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Kings and Monday offers another trip, this one to Nashville. When the Panthers return home, the defending conference champion Bruins will be the foe.

Obviously this was not the start the Panthers hoped for, not with what's on deck.

"We have to figure this out quick because it's not going to get easier,'' said Brad Boyes, who cracked Florida's 0-for-17 power play slide by scoring early in the second to make it a 2-1 game. "Seven goals is, I don't know what else to say. It's terrible.''

Tampa Bay opened the scoring eight minutes in when Martin St. Louis poked a puck past goalie Jacob Markstrom. It was 2-0 soon afterward as Stamkos drove through Erik Gudbranson and redirected a feed from St. Louis for Florida's second shorthanded goal allowed this season.

The Panthers finally got their own power play on the board in the second when Boyes tapped a puck past Ben Bishop. A goal down was as close as Florida got with the Lightning getting goals from Stamkos and Ondrej Palat within a four-minute span in the second for a 4-1 lead at the final break.

Florida cut it to two in the third when Jonathan Huberdeau charged in on Bishop and pushed the puck through. But the Bolts weren't done, with Detroit import Valtteri Filppula scoring twice before Stamkos got a new collection of caps with 7:35 remaining.

Markstrom made 18 saves on 24 shots and was pulled after Filppula's second. Scott Clemmensen came in and gave up a goal on four shots.

"This is something we have to go over, it's early but this is something you can't have in this league,'' Scott Gomez said. "We have to stop this now. The positive is we're coming right back [Friday] so we better stop the bleeding now. .-.-. We know how we can play, compete. But this has to stop. We have no time to dwell on it. We're right back into it.''

-- The Panthers and Lightning will play for a so-called 'Governor's Cup' with the winner of the four-game series getting a donation from the losing team for its youth hockey programs.

Although Florida and Tampa Bay played for the 110th time on Thursday, the two have yet to meet in the postseason.

"They are our in-state rival and the only thing that separates us is the Everglades,'' Dineen said on Wednesday. "A nasty playoff series would really push things along.''


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560

The series: Pittsburgh leads 40-32-4

The game: Florida is playing its first back-to-back set of the season in its 20th home opener. Pittsburgh took two of three against the Panthers last year and have won 12 of the past 15.



PANTHERS ARE 20: Florida Drops Puck on 20th Opener on Friday

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

TAMPA -- Much has changed since the Panthers played their first home game in South Florida 20 years ago although there is plenty which has not.

The Panthers drop the puck on their 20th home opener on Friday at 7:30 -- one day shy of the 20th anniversary of the first game at Miami Arena.

The opponent on Friday is the same as it was in 1993 as Pittsburgh heads south. The Penguins won 2-1 on Oct. 11, 1993.

"It doesn't feel like 20 years at all because you have such fond memories of those times,'' said assistant coach Gord Murphy, a defenseman who scored the franchise's second goal in the 1993-94 season-opener at Chicago.

"Those days are at the front of your memory train. We were so scared in that first game you could hear a pin drop in that old Chicago Stadium locker room. It was an amazing time. We had never seen the jerseys before then. We had never worn them. It was quite a feeling knowing you were the first to do it.''

Although the team said it would play Friday's game in 1993-style jerseys, that won't happen because of league marketing rules. Instead, youngsters will wear jerseys representing the Panthers' lineup from that first night in Miami during introductions.

Former captain Brian Skrudland, who is the team's director of player development, and Rob Niedermayer (Florida's first draft pick in 1993) are expected to be on hand and will sign autographs during the intermission.

Former players and coaches with ties to Florida's first season who remain with the team include alternate governor Bill Torrey, assistant coaches Craig Ramsay and Murphy, as well as broadcasters Randy Moller and Billy Lindsay.

"That was one of the great experiences of my life and I've been in the business 43 years,'' Ramsay said. "To be part of picking that first team, that will never happen again.''

The franchise plans on celebrating not only its past, but its new beginnings as well. H. Wayne Huizenga, who brought the franchise to life in 1992, is expected to be in the building he built as is new owner Vinnie Viola.

The team will also unveil its much-anticipated $5 million high-definition scoreboard and will have the entire team meet fans and sign autographs for children following the game.

"You can't dwell in the past and I'm excited about the direction we're going now,'' Torrey said.


Renowned marine artist Guy Harvey created a design to celebrate the Panthers' 20th anniversary season. The design features a rendering of a panther in the wild as well as a pair of hockey sticks and some rats. It will be available on t-shirts as well as other merchandise at Friday's opener.

Harvey also did designs for the inaugural seasons of the Panthers and Marlins 20 years ago.

-- Goalie Tim Thomas (groin) worked out after Thursday's morning skate for about 20 minutes and took live shots from scratched players such as Matt Gilroy, Sean Bergenheim and Ed Jovanovski.


"Feels better,'' Thomas said as he walked into the locker room.

-- Shawn Matthias was sick and missed the morning skate but played Thursday night.


October 09, 2013

PANTHERS IN TAMPA: Tim Thomas Feeling Better ... Scott Clemmensen Up, Drew Shore Down ... Sean Bergenheim Out Through Weekend

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

TAMPA -- Panthers goalie Tim Thomas said he immediately began "aggressive treatment" on his strained groin and the injury felt better Wednesday morning than it did when he was hurt Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

Neither Thomas nor the Panthers think Thomas' injury is anything long term and he wasn't put on the injured list -- at least not yet. The Panthers can always place Thomas on the IR retroactively if he has any setbacks. Thomas said he hasn't had a groin injury since the 2006-07 season.

"It's already feeling better. I'm happy with the way things it's progressing,'' Thomas said after he didn't participate in Wednesday's practice. "You don't want to go too far in projecting [a return] with these kind of injuries.

"I'm very happy with the progress in less than 24 hours. But you don't want to speculate for one game then miss the cut off. But I don't think it will be very long if that helps.''

Florida called up Scott Clemmensen from its AHL affiliate in San Antonio as Thomas is expected to miss at least the next few days.

Jacob Markstrom, who stopped all 25 pucks he faced in the 2-1 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday, is expected to start Thursday against the host Lightning. Markstrom likely would have played Thursday anyway with Florida playing back-to-back contests.

"He did a good job,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.

Thomas said he felt a twinge when he awkwardly moved across the crease and instantly knew he would be coming out of the game at the next stoppage of play.

Unfortunately for Thomas and the Panthers, the next whistle came after the Flyers scored their second goal.

A long shot from Sean Couturier had Thomas make a similar move -- and he felt the groin go again. Thomas struggled to pick himself off the ice and was late to dive for Braydon Coburn's 50-foot shot from the side board that slid into the net.

"I put all my weight on the left leg; so I went one way and had to go really fast the other way,'' Thomas said. "I tried testing it, although you can't tell until you get into an awkward position. It's been so long since I've had any muscle strain, I just couldn't believe it. I didn't know how to respond to it quickly.''

Thomas said he knew criticism of him coming back to the NHL at 39 would start as soon as he got hurt.

Social media was abuzz when Thomas left Tuesday's game with many tweeting jokes about Thomas' age -- as well as plenty regarding 'Obamacare.' Thomas famously skipped the Bruins' trip to the White House in 2012.

"I thought about that when it happened, but I can't control what people say,'' Thomas said. "My job is to get better as soon as possible to be available to the team for their use.''

Clemmensen had minor knee surgery in September after having some swelling after an informal practice in Coral Springs. Clemmensen didn't play during Florida's preseason but made 24 saves off 25 shots in leading San Antonio to a 3-1 win last Saturday.

"The most important thing is my knee feels great,'' Clemmensen said. "That's the reason why I had the surgery in the first place. I didn't want to be battling this all year. I feel great physically. I had a late start to the season but I'm getting caught up.''


Sean Bergenheim is getting closer to return after having two abdominal surgeries after working with Florida's top-six forwards for the first time on Wednesday.

Dineen said Bergenheim will travel with the team to Nashville where he will meet with the surgeon who did one of the surgeries. If all looks good, Bergenheim could be back in the lineup next week.

"We're still waiting for him to be cleared on the medical side,'' Dineen said.

-- To make room for Clemmensen, the Panthers sent forward Drew Shore to San Antonio. Florida had been carrying two extra forwards and said Shore needs to go to the minors and get in some playing time -- especially at center.

With Florida's glut of centers, Shore played on the wing in two of the opening three games.

"My feeling is he can be a top nine forward and play at the center spot,'' Dineen said. "I didn't see that here in the near future. As much as we make decisions on play, this was to keep furthering his development. He'll log some major minutes in San Antonio. He needs to play some hockey.''


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560

The series: Florida leads 57-42-10

The game: This is Tampa Bay's home opener after going 2-1-0 on its season-opening road trip. The Panthers are 1-2-0 on their four-game roadtrip -- which concludes Thursday. Florida lost three of five to the Lightning last season, but won the final two.



October 08, 2013

THOMAS HURT, PANTHERS LOSE: Philadelphia Gets First Win as Thomas Injures Groin Early

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

PHILADELPHIA -- The Panthers lost veteran goalie Tim Thomas to what is called a slight groin pull in the opening period of Tuesday night's game.

The goal Thomas let in after not being able to pull himself off the ice in time proved to be the difference as Philadelphia ended its three game losing streak by beating the Panthers 2-1 at Wells Fargo Center.

Thomas, who could be out at a few weeks, gave up both goals Tuesday night off odd shots. The second flukey goal came when Thomas after went down to make a save on a shot by Sean Couturier and got hurt in the process.

Thomas was slow to get up as Braydon Coburn fired a long shot from 50 feet out into the net as Thomas dove in vain for it. Thomas then skated off to the Panthers locker room and didn't return.

"I don't think it's anything longterm but we'll evaluate him [Wednesday] and see where he's at,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.

The Flyers' opening score came 4:49 into the game when Jakub Voracek's long shot bounded off the back board and ricocheted off the skate of Brayden Schenn as he charged through the slot. That puck found its way between the legs of Thomas.

The loss was Thomas' first in Philadelphia as he had been 8-0 here during his career before Tuesday's abbreviated start. The Flyers avoided their first 0-4 start in franchise history as they won in coach Craig Berube's debut after Peter Laviolette was canned Monday morning.

The Panthers will have Scott Clemmensen meet the team in Tampa possibly in time for Wednesday's late afternoon practice. Clemmensen gave up one goal off 25 shots in earning the win for Florida's AHL affiliate in San Antonio on Saturday night.

Clemmensen had minor knee surgery in September and said he was using his rehab assignment as his own training camp. Well, that's been cut short.

"We're in a good situation with good goalies competing for jobs,'' goalie coach Robb Tallas said. "They are all pushing each other and that's a good thing. Clemmensen felt really good after his game. He's ready.''

Jacob Markstrom appears to be Florida's starter with Thomas on the shelf as he did everything he could to keep the Panthers in Tuesday's game.

Markstrom stopped all 25 shots he faced as the Panthers' only goal came with six seconds remaining in the second when Brad Boyes followed up Brian Campbell's shot to beat goalie Steve Mason. Obviously that wasn't enough scoring.

"I felt good, it's just too bad we couldn't get a few more goals in there,'' said Markstrom, who took over the Panthers' starting job last year when Jose Theodore was injured. "I felt good, the body feels good. I want to play, want to be out there in the heat. I'll do whatever coach tells me, but I want to play games.''

Mason ended with 33 saves as he kept the Panthers at bay throughout. Tuesday's game was one the Panthers should have won had they found a way to solve Mason more than just once.

Florida created numerous scoring chances but were stoned by Mason time after time. Some of the Panthers' best shots at Mason came when Aleksander Barkov was rejected on a first-period power play and when Shawn Matthias was turned back on a short-handed breakwaway in the second.

"We're not displeased with the way we played but we didn't win the game,'' Dineen said. "We need to turn those momentum pushes into some offense, into some points.''

The Panthers power play looked better than it had all season yet Florida still went 0-for-5 with the advantage and haven't scored in 16 such situations this season.

Florida's penalty kill was put to work in the third after Erik Gudbranson boarded Scott Hartnell and was ejected. The Flyers didn't score on their five-minute chance in the third nor on any of their five power play chances.

The Panthers have lost two straight since winning their season opener 4-2 at Dallas last Thursday. Florida has been outscored 9-1 in those two losses.

"This is a tough game to swallow,'' Tomas Kopecky said. "You can't look around and blame others. I have to blame myself. I had some good chances and I have to score those goals. I have to help out, have to be better.''

-- Kopecky said he wasn't told why he received a two minutes penalty after he got jumped from behind by Philadelphia's Jay Rosehill. He does, however, have a good idea why Rosehill was so mad that he spun around from the penalty box and skated across the ice to get at Kopecky.

"He tried to steal my stick,'' Kopecky said of Rosehill. "So I told him I would autograph it for him afterward.''

PANTHERS GONE FISHIN: Hockey Club Teams Up with Artist Guy Harvey

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards


This is a release from Guy Harvey and the Panthers:


World renowned marine artist, scientist and conservationist Guy Harvey has created a limited edition Florida Panther/Guy Harvey design that will help the NHL¹s Florida Panthers celebrate their 20th
anniversary this season. In addition, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and
the Florida Panthers Foundation have announced joint fundraising efforts
based on game play occurrences.

The design by Guy Harvey, Inc., headquartered in Davie, Florida, will be
used on a commemorative 20th Anniversary T-Shirt, as well as other
promotional items, including posters and in-arena murals. The design will
make its debut at the team¹s home opener on Oct. 11.

Included in the partnership, fans will have a chance to learn more about the
conservation message behind the Guy Harvey brand. Various programs will be
launched throughout the season to help support both the Guy Harvey Ocean
Foundation as well as the Florida Panthers Foundation.

³This partnership with a major professional sports franchise, such as the
Florida Panthers, is unique for us,² said Steve Stock, president of the Guy
Harvey Ocean Foundation and Guy Harvey Inc. ³Through their loyal and
passionate fan base, it is a great opportunity to extend our marine
conservation mission, the Guy Harvey brand and also support the good work of
the Florida Panthers Foundation.²

Game promotions such as ³Broken Stick² and ³Guy Harvey¹s Fight for
Conservation² will involve in-game activation to support conservation and
ecology programs. Stock will pledge $5,000 to the Florida Panthers
Foundation for every ³Hat Trick² (three goals scored by a single Panthers


October 07, 2013

PHILADELPHIA FALLOUT: Flyers (0-3) Fire Laviolette as Panthers Come to Town; New Coach has History with Panthers

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

PHILADELPHIA -- By the time the Panthers landed in Philadelphia on Monday morning, their upcoming opponent had already fired their coach and named a successor.

The sky is apparently falling all around the Flyers. The Panthers are up on deck.

Philadelphia is off to one of its worst starts in franchise history, an 0-3 run that cost coach Peter Laviolette his job. According to TSN, Laviolette's firing was the earliest in NHL history as the Flyers kicked things off just last Wednesday.

"We've still got a long way to go in terms of the season, but it was more about how we played,'' GM Paul Holmgren said at Monday's press conference. "It was unacceptable. We don't look like a team at all.''

Philadelphia named former enforcer Craig Berube as its 18th coach. Laviolette led Carolina to the Stanley Cup in 2006 and coached the Flyers to the Cup Finals in his first season as their coach in 2010.

The Flyers have never started a season 0-4. The Panthers try to put them into the history books on Tuesday night.

"They have a good team, there's a lot of talent here and they're going to come hard at us,'' Brad Boyes said. "They're going to be physical.''

Like the Panthers, Philadelphia has struggled to score with many of its top players yet to find the scoresheet. The Flyers have a grand total of three goals -- two coming off the power play.

Former Tampa Bay captain Vinny Lecavalier, who was bought out over the summer before signing a five-year deal with the Flyers, is tied for Philadelphia's scoring lead with just two points.

Florida, obviously, has its own concerns. The Panthers won their opener by scoring four times in Dallas before falling flat in St. Louis. Florida's 7-0 loss to the host Blues on Saturday was its worst beating since losing 8-0 at Boston on Dec. 23, 2011.

Philadelphia started last year 0-3 but bounced back by beating the Rangers before throttling the Panthers 7-1.

"We have enough on our plate not to worry about them,'' Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "Historically this has been a tough building to play in. We have good veterans here who understand that.''

The Panthers power play has been problematic in the first two games with Dineen admitting Florida's 0-for-11 start is cause for concern. Florida is one of seven NHL teams who went into Monday without a power play goal.

The power play was one of Florida's few strong suits last year as it ranked sixth in the league with a success rate of just over 20 percent. The Flyers have given up three goals in 15 penalty kill situations.

"It has been a strength of ours and I've been comfortable relying on it the past few years,'' Dineen said. "You want to be on the power play, want to get it done. We know we have the personnel here. We'll find the chemistry.''


Berube, 47, does have a bit of history with the Panthers as he was suspended for a game in 1997 after calling Florida winger Peter Worrell a racial slur during an altercation while playing for the Capitals.

Worrell, then playing in his second NHL game, said at the time that Berube apologized to him in a phone call and "sounded sincere'' for calling him a monkey.

Berube played 17 seasons in the NHL -- including parts of seven with the Flyers -- and has been head coach of the Flyers' AHL team as well as an assistant coach in Philadelphia before getting the full-time head coaching job Monday.

“Craig is one of the smartest hockey guys I’ve ever been around,” Holmgren said at Monday's press conference. “He has some work to do. He understands that.

-- Dineen, as well as his coaching staff, is in the final year of their contracts but said he's not worried about his job.

"I have no control over that,'' Dineen said. "I signed a three-year contract. It's no concern to me.''


When, Where: 7 p.m.; Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560

The series: Philadelphia leads 44-29-7

The game: The Panthers lost 7-1 at home to the Flyers last year, but won both games in Philadelphia. Florida has won at least one game in Philadelphia over the past six seasons; Tuesday is the Panthers only visit this year. The Flyers have been outscored 9-3 to start the season.


October 06, 2013

20 YEARS OF HOCKEY IN SOUTH FLORIDA: Mellanby Proud of Contribution to Panthers ... Sunday is Anniversary of Inaugural Game

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

ST. LOUIS -- Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of the Panthers' first game, one that ended with a 4-4 tie at Chicago Stadium against the Blackhawks.

Scott Mellanby, who scored the first goal in franchise history on Oct. 6, 1993, watched Saturday's game from the press box as did former Panthers coach Duane Sutter.

Others with ties to that first game who were in St. Louis include television analyst Billy Lindsay and assistant coach Craig Ramsay.

The Panthers will honor some of their top players with commemorative bobble heads.

Mellanby, Florida's captain from 1997-2001, will be among them. Mellanby killed the rat in the Miami Arena locker room that started the rubber rat craze in Florida's run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996.

"It's nice to be honored but it sure makes you feel old. I can't believe it has been 20 years,'' Mellanby, now the director of player personnel with the Montreal Canadiens, said last month. "This was a big part of my career, a big part of my life. I got married just before I came here, I had children born here.

"I would like to see the team be back in the playoffs on a regular basis. We were proud of what we did here. I'll always have a soft spot for the Panthers. I think I was a big part of the franchise at one time.''

As far as the Rat Trick goes:

"It's funny. I still have people come up to me and ask about it,'' Mellanby said. "As soon as someone goes 'are you the guy who...' I know what they're going to ask. I had a charity event at my house in St. Louis and I have the display from the Miami Arena wall in my house. People who came for the dinner saw it my basement and heard the story and got a kick out of it.

"It's still a source of great stories and is interesting to people. It's neat to see people still embracing the rats. It's a part of our past that people still enjoy. It's fun.''


SULLEN IN ST. LOUIS: Panthers Try to Forget Saturday, Not Repeat Last Season ... Clemmensen Returns with Rampage

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

ST. LOUIS -- The Panthers took a field trip to the Rams-Jaguars game on Sunday afternoon. At first glance it would appear to be a punishment for Saturday's lopsided loss.

No, coach Kevin Dineen planned the outing soon after the schedule came out -- long before Saturday's 7-0 loss to the Blues and before he probably realized how bad Jacksonville would be.

"They're a Florida team so we're going to cheer for them,'' Dineen said on Saturday morning. "It didn't set up well for us to see the Cardinals on Friday because of [practice].''

Sunday's off day in St. Louis was planned as a way for the Panthers to hang out with each other in more of a social setting, a team-building effort for a group which opens its season with four games away from home.

Dineen said the team could have flown home after Saturday's game and then traveled to Philadelphia on Monday but he decided to keep the road trip on the road.

"I felt going to a football game would be a nice way to just spend some time together,'' Dineen said. "We talked about spending some time away before the season started, but with nine days to start the season, we thought we should find something on the road trip.''

For Dineen and his Panthers, Sunday also served as a day to kind of forget about Saturday's ugliness.

The Panthers probably won't be able to put the loss to the Blues behind them so quickly -- and may look back at last year as a warning not to let things get away so early in the season. Florida was feeling good about itself after winning its opener, as it did last season.

Like last year, that opening night win was followed up by a road rout. What the Panthers do now is up to them. Last year's team lost five straight after beating Carolina in the opener. Florida tries to end its losing ways Tuesday against the host Flyers. The team will practice Monday afternoon in Philadelphia.

"We can't let this happen again,'' Jonathan Huberdeau said. "We have to recharge our batteries. We're only two games in so we can forget this and be ready when the puck drops on the next one.''

Dineen also said he wouldn't dispose of the video from Saturday's loss, one in which the Panthers went 0-for-7 on the power play and were outshot (34-19) and throughly outplayed.

"We all have to take ownership in this one,'' Dineen said. "It was a butt kicking.We have to move on, get ready for the next one. We have a lot of games left on this trip. We have to be better. I'm not fooling myself or these guys. They are smart guys. They know what the difference in the game was.''

For some players, Sunday's trip to the Edward Jones Dome was their first live NFL experience. Huberdeau and others took in their first game last month at the Dolphins' season opener.

"I know the rules because I've played football on video games,'' said rookie Aleksander Barkov, who grew up in Finland before moving to Florida. "It's a little different than European football. We don't see this kind of football much. I think it will be fun.''

-- Scott Clemmensen played in his first game since last April Saturday as he made 24 saves in leading San Antonio of the AHL to a 3-1 victory over the Rockford, Ill, Icehogs.

Clemmensen had knee surgery last month and is technically in San Antonio on a rehab assignment. Since he passed through waivers without being claimed, the Panthers could keep him there longer is they so wished.

"I'm here to play some games and get my game in order,'' Clemmensen told the San Antonio Express-News.

"For me this is my training camp. My goal is to prepare myself and get my body healthy. After that, who knows?"


October 05, 2013

PANTHERS NOTEBOOK: Marcel Goc Digging New Role Uptown ...

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

ST. LOUIS -- Much was made of how the Panthers would replace Stephen Weiss as top line center when Weiss left to chase the Stanley Cup in Detroit over the summer.

It turns out Weiss' replacement may have been here all along.

With a lineup beset with injuries last year, Marcel Goc found himself in a different position as he was centering one of the top two lines. Goc has made a living as a grinding third line defensive player, although the Panthers liked the chemistry he seemed to have with Tomas Fleischmann.

When Florida kicked off Thursday in Dallas, Goc found himself a No. 1 center to start a season for the first time in his nine-year NHL career.

Goc, who still prides himself on his defensive play despite the playmakers surrounding him, scored two goals in Thursday's 4-2 win over the Stars.

Goc's first goal was the game-winner as he trailed the play and buried a beautiful feed from Fleischmann. His second came in the final minutes and went into an empty net.

"Last year I moved up and down the lines because of the injuries,'' said Goc, who had scored twice in a game only once before and not in his previous two seasons with the Panthers.

"I play the way I play and I try to do the same things every night. But now I have to keep up with the offensive stuff but I still have to be responsible defensively. But no question playing with these guys is fun.''

Fleischmann said he and Kris Versteeg appreciate the defensive prowess Goc brings to their line, one formerly centered by Weiss. Two seasons ago, the Weiss/Fleischmann/Versteeg trio was the most productive line in the league.

Last year, Weiss and Versteeg missed most of the season due to serious injuries.

"He's a similar player to me, he sees the ice very well and that may be why we play well together,'' Fleischmann said. "Last year we finished playing together and we find each other on the ice. I kind of know where he is and he knows where his wingers are.''


Coach Kevin Dineen is expected to continue tinkering with his lines in this early going of the season. Saturday saw some minor tweaking with Krys Barch replacing Drew Shore on the fourth line.

Barch played after sitting out Thursday in Dallas. Matt Gilroy and Joey Crabb joined Shore on the scratch line.

"It's early in the season and we've been blessed with the gift of extra bodies,'' Dineen said. "We're going to take advantage of it. This continues to be a work in progress in trying to find some symmetry. We'll go from there.''

-- The Panthers stayed in St. Louis after Saturday's game and plan on having an off day in the city on Sunday. The team will charter to Philadelphia on Monday morning and practice at the University of Pennsylvania later that day.


SMOKED IN ST. LOUIS: Panthers Beaten Down in 7-0 Loss to

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

ST. LOUIS -- The Panthers had to feel extremely fortunate to escape the first period of Saturday night's game down just one goal.


Their fortune changed for the worse in the second as things got so bad all the team wanted to do was flee the scene of this accident.

St. Louis tore open a once close game by scoring four times within a span of seven minutes to blow the Panthers out of the Scottrade Center 7-0.

Soon after the Blues scored twice in the opening 4:09 of the third, fights began breaking out all over the ice.

A total of 15 infractions involving 12 players were called with most of the players given penalties with more time on them then on the clock. Those players would be considered the lucky ones as they got to head to the locker room early and avoid watching the end of this dreadful contest.

A few vocal fans near the Florida bench and tunnel were also sent home early by the authorities. Again, they would be considered fortunate.

"We were hanging on for dear life and got outplayed in every aspect of the game,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. "We didn't rise to the occassion.''

Florida was outplayed by the Blues from the start of the night with Tim Thomas keeping his new team in it.

Thomas made 13 saves in the opening period although he couldn't find a shot from Brenden Morrow with 6:02 left in the period.

Florida had deftly killed off a 5-on-3 power play chance with Scott Gomez and Shawn Matthias in the box, yet with seven ticks left on the Matthias penalty, Morrow followed up a shot from Derek Roy and put it into the back of the net for the lone score of the period.

"You don't like to se a 7-0 score and it's all our fault,'' Jonathan Huberdeau said. "We had a few scores like that last year and we don't want any of that this year. We're better than this. We just have to work harder. It was only 1-0 in the first and into the second. We didn't have a good start or a good game. We need to step up.''

The Panthers came out in the second and things looked markedly different. Florida began dictating the flow of the game.

The Panthers' biggest scoring chance come with 12:45 left when Brad Boyes and Aleksander Barkov charged goalie Jaroslav Halak on a rush with Boyes keeping the shot. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Boyes' wrister rang off the right post and the Blues kept their one goal advantage.

Instead of being in a tie game, the Panthers suddenly found themselves sliding downhill. A few minutes after Boyes' shot, Vladimir Tarasenko took advantage of a three-Panther pileup in front of the cage and put the puck through for a 2-0 lead.

Less than three minutes later it was 3-0 after Florida's Tom Gilbert gave up the puck behind his net. St. Louis' Vlad Sobotka fired it to Jaden Schwartz who flicked it past Thomas for a 3-0 advantage.

Derek Roy made it 4-0 with 3:48 left in the period with Alex Steen polishing things off by scoring on a penalty shot with 57 seconds remaining after being dragged to the ice on a break by Alex Gudbranson.

"It went downhill and snowballed quick,'' Thomas said. "As a team you have to find a way to break that momentum and we weren't able to do it for a long period of time. It wasn't just a couple minutes.''

Although Thomas (23 saves on 28 shots) stayed in through the end of the second, he didn't make it past that. Jacob Markstrom came in to start the third but couldn't staunch the bleeding.

The Blues scored twice off their first four shots to open the third and turn a rout into a true laugher.

Markstrom ended with four saves on six shots in the final 20 minutes of play. The NHL, unfortunately, doesn't have a mercy rule and allow a running clock in situations Florida found itself in Saturday night.

"We have to be better,'' Dineen said. "There is still work to do. There was ugliness here [Saturday].''


October 04, 2013

NEW LOOK: Photos of Jacob Markstrom's New Mask


BLOCKAGE: Erik Gudbranson and Panthers Get Down and Dirty to Beat Stars in Opener

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

ST. LOUIS -- Coach Kevin Dineen was extremely happy with the teamwork the Panthers showed on Thursday as Florida had 24 blocked shots.

"That is our overall identity,'' Dineen said. "It's something we acknowledged with our players and is something we take pride in.''

Defenseman Erik Gudbranson made the biggest block of the game when he dove to the ice and got in front of a hard slap shot from Dallas' Brenden Dillon.

The score was tied 2-2 at the time and had that puck gone in, the Panthers could be 0-1 going into Saturday's game in St. Louis instead of the other way around. Marcel Goc scored the first of his two goals 25 seconds after Gudbranson's huge block.

Gudbranson, who said he took the shot in the midsection, briefly left Thursday's game but finished it by playing on four shifts in the final seven minutes.

"I'm fine,'' Gudbranson said after participating in Friday's practice.

"Guys made the sacrifices,'' Panthers goalie Tim Thomas said after the game. "If Gudbranson doesn't block that shot, we don't win the game.''

-- Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was ejected from Thursday's game along with Dallas' Ryan Garbutt for starting a fight while another fight was going on.

Kulikov said on Friday that he didn't know that teammate Mike Weaver was already battling Antoine Roussel at the time.

"As soon as [Thomas] got the puck I started pulling [Garbutt] away and I didn't know what was going on with Weaver and the other guy,'' Kulikov said.

"I thought it would be a 10-minute misconduct. I didn't know it would be the game. I felt bad leaving five D out there.''


When, Where: 8:30 p.m.; Scottrade Center, St. Louis

TV/Radio: FSN; WSBR-740

The series: Blues lead 15-7-3

Scouting report: Both teams are 1-0 to start the year with the Blues kicking off a five-game homestand with a 4-2 win over Nashville. The Blues have won the past two over Florida with the Panthers winning just three of 13 in St. Louis.


YOUTH ON PARADE: Aleksander Barkov Youngest to Score in NHL Since World War II

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

ST. LOUIS -- The Panthers made a little NHL history on Thursday night when rookie center Aleksander Barkov became the youngest player to score in almost 70 years.

Barkov was the second overall pick of the Panthers in the 2013 NHL draft and made his debut on Thursday. Barkov's goal was big at the time as it came with 9:28 left in the third period and tied the score at 2.

Marcel Goc scored two more after Barkov's goal to help Florida win its season opener 4-2 over host Dallas.

Ted Kennedy was four days younger than Barkov when he scored a goal for the Maple Leafs on Jan. 8, 1944. Barkov was 18 years (and 31 days) old at the time of his goal.

"Isn't that a great stat? That's something to be incredibly proud of,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. "There are a lot of stats out there, but that's a pretty neat one. He didn't look out of place. He went out there and established himself and played his best game in a Panthers uniform.''

Barkov has spent the past two years playing professionally in Finland and said he didn't feel any nerves in playing in his first NHL game. "I was just excited,'' Barkov said. "I had a lot of fun.''

As is custom, the Panthers collected the puck he scored his first goal on and will have it -- along with the lineup from his first game -- framed.

Barkov's goal came on his third shot of the night; last season, Jonathan Huberdeau scored a goal on his first shot in his first NHL game. Barkov is the eighth-youngest player in NHL history to score his first NHL goal according to research from Elias Sports Bureau.

Other Florida players to score in their first game include Stephen Weiss and Shawn Matthias.

"I'm not thinking about that, I'm just trying to concentrate on the next game,'' said Barkov, who played 15:34 off 21 shifts in his opener. "I was just trying to put the puck on the net. Sometimes it goes through.''