On a cool Miami weekend, why not make my first visit of the NHL season to the BB&T Center in Sunrise Florida as the Florida Panthers hosted the Colorado Avalanche.
The opening period had the pace and excitement for Panther fans in attendance. Mikko Rantanen opened the game with a goal for the Avalanche, Aaron Ekblad scored for the Panthers, 1-1 first period.
In the second period, the Panthers were cooking with gas as Denis Malgin gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead on a breakaway when he put the puck past Semyon Varlamov at 4:51 of the second. Malgin has a goal in three straight games and four in the past six.
All of a sudden Nathan MacKinnon scored, and Alexander Kerfoot added another in a matter of seconds apart in the second period. From there, my chips and dip did not taste as enjoyable as Colorado beat the Florida 7-3 ending a four-game skid.
“We came out in the second period played a real good second period with nothing to show for it. We had a breakaway at 2-1, could have made it 3-1,” Panthers Head Coach Bob Boughner stated. “We missed that opportunity; our power play missed an opportunity to put in the back of the net there with a four-minute power play at the end of the second (period). That’s the difference in the game. We didn’t bury our chances, and they did.”
Panthers have lost four of five. James Reimer made 23 saves. Panthers C Aleksander Barkov was scratched with an upper-body injury.
“He’s our guy,” Boughner stated. “Obviously not having Evgenii Dadonov and Barky in the lineup sooner or later is going to catch up to you and it did tonight.”
Panthers are young however playing catch up does not appear to be their game. It is a work in progress that is ahead of its time. Ekblad is as advertised and a real bright spot for the franchise. Capitalizing on opportunities like a power play when the Panthers were down 3-2 is what makes the difference in the team gaining momentum and confidence as the season continues. Panthers finished the night 0-for-5 on the power play. The Panthers (11-14-4) begin a five-game road trip on Monday in Detroit, visits to Chicago, in addition to making it west to face the Golden Knights.
Speaking of momentum, Panthers announced on the 25th anniversary of the club’s inauguration as an NHL franchise they will permanently retire number 37 in honor of franchise founder H. Wayne Huizenga on Friday, January 19, 2018, at BB&T Center, when the Panthers host the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The number 37 was selected by the Huizenga family in recognition of Wayne’s birth year and lucky number.