For two periods Friday, the Florida Panthers’ offense came up empty — a rarity for one of the National Hockey League’s top scoring teams. They found momentarily life in the third, enough to spark a rally for a closer-than-expected win. Sam Reinhart scored the game-tying goal on a power play early in the frame to force overtime, and the Panthers ultimately beat the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout for a 2-1 win at Rogers Arena. The Panthers are 28-8-5 at the halfway mark of their 2021-2022 season. With 61 points, the Panthers remain atop the NHL standings. The win comes after a 6-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, giving the Panthers consecutive road wins for the first time this season.
It was “a mature kind of road game,” as interim coach Andrew Brunette put it. And a needed road win for the Panthers, who have more often than not come up short in these types of situations away from South Florida this season. The Panthers had lost each of their first three road games this year that went to shootouts. That changed Friday. Anton Lundell and Aleksander Barkov scored in the shootout period to give Florida the edge. Rookie goaltender Spencer Knight was solid in net as well, stopping 27 of 28 shots that came his way and two of three during the shootout. The lone goal he gave up came late in the first period, when a Quinn Hughes shot from the point on the power play deflected off a pair of sticks, first Tanner Pearson and then Alex Chiasson, to get past Knight.
“You need goaltending on the road,” Brunette said, “and he was exceptional.” The Panthers played from behind for the next 25 minutes, with Canucks goaltender Spencer Martin keeping the high-octane Florida offense off the scoreboard until Reinhart’s power-play goal 1:41 into the third period. “We had to stick together and stick with it,” Knight said. “Not scoring can be frustrating but the guys did an amazing job of staying with it and waiting for their chance. We’re not going to score five goals every night; you have to find different ways to win.” That was it for scoring in regulation, and neither team scored during the five minute, three-on-three overtime period. The Panthers did spend a nearly three-minute stretch in the offensive zone in the middle of overtime, but had just three shots on goal and no real scoring chances. “We needed to get it inside a little bit more,” Brunette said. “I think it was kind of kind of fun wandering around the rosy there a little bit, but we really didn’t get a whole lot accomplished result. We had zone time and it’s just one little breakdown when you’re gonna get a great look, but we didn’t. We had possession, but we weren’t nearly as dangerous as we are sometimes. It’s always more fun when you have the puck than when you don’t.”
INJURY UPDATES Center Sam Bennett missed Friday’s game with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. Joe Thornton joined the lineup in Bennett’s absence. Forward Patric Hornqvist also remains day-to-day but skated pregame on Friday.