Jonathan Huberdeau scored a goal and contributed four assists as the Florida Panthers crushed the short-handed Tampa Bay Lightning 9-3 on Thursday night in Sunrise, Fla.
Taking advantage of a Lightning team that was without its top two goalies due to COVID protocol, the Panthers produced their highest-ever goal total against the Lightning. The previous high came in an 8-2 win on Feb. 28, 2006.
It was also one goal short of the Florida record against any team, and it inspired a “We want 10” chant by Panthers fans.
Anthony Duclair had two goals and an assist for the Panthers, who got a goal and an assist each from Anton Lundell, Eetu Luostarinen, Frank Vatrano, Anton Lundell and Aleksander Barkov. Maxim Mamin and Aaron Ekblad added a goal apiece.
Panthers rookie goalie Spencer Knight made 39 saves, beating the Lightning for the second time in two tries.
The Panthers, who lead the NHL in home wins (16-3-0), broke Tampa Bay’s four-game win streak.
The Lightning, who got coach Jon Cooper back from the COVID protocol list, received goals from Zach Bogosian, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point.
However, the Panthers took advantage of third-string Lightning goalie Maxime Lagace, who made 21 saves and allowed six goals before being lifted following the second period. Fourth-stringer Hugo Alnefelt made seven saves and allowed three goals in the third.
Duclair gave Florida a 1-0 lead just 2:10 into the first period. Brandon Montour got the primary assist, and Duclair finished with a dizzying array of moves.
Just over nine minutes later, the Panthers made it 2-0 on a power play as Huberdeau cleaned up a shot by Barkov, which hit the crossbar.
With 14:21 gone in the first, Vatrano — had been a healthy scratch on Wednesday — scored his first goal since Nov. 20. Vatrano, playing because the Panthers were missing Sam Bennett, followed his first shot, which struck the post.
The first period closed with Florida’s lead cut to 3-1 as Bogosian also followed his own shot. His first attempt was stopped by Knight’s left pad, but Bogosian’s second shot, from a sharp angle, bounced in off the goalie’s midsection at 15:31.
In the second period, Luostarinen and Stamkos traded goals, but the Panthers closed the period with a pair of goals in less than two minutes. First, Mamin tapped in after a Carter Verhaeghe breakaway attempt was stopped at the goal line. Then, Lundell lifted a rebound over Lagace’s left pad for a 6-2 lead, and the blowout was on.
–Field Level Media