The Panthers ended 2018 with a bang — winning for the first time in franchise history when trailing by three goals and on the road.
They beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in a shootout win Monday. The Panthers won their first shootout game of the season and picked up their first short-handed goal, as well.
The Panthers’ reward: more airline points. Starting with Thursday’s visit to the Buffalo Sabres, the Panthers will play seven of their next nine games on the road.
Fortunately, the Panthers are a solid 9-9-2 overall on the road this season, including 4-1-0 in their past five games away from home.
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A trend the Panthers would like to reverse is that of starting slowly. The Panthers have fallen behind at least 1-0 in four consecutive first periods.
It has been a major problem the past few days. They fell behind 2-0 to the Montreal Canadiens within the first three minutes of Friday’s 5-3 loss. They fell behind 1-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers less than two minutes into Saturday’s game but rallied to win, and they were in a 3-0 hole in the first period on Monday.
Here are four more takeaways regarding the Panthers.
1: The Panthers lifted starting goalie Roberto Luongo after he allowed three goals in the first period, making just five saves. (The first two goals were virtually unstoppable by anyone.)
Reimer came in and stopped all 12 shots he faced plus three more in the shootout. Among the players he stopped in the shootout was Frans Nielsen, the NHL’s career leader in shootout goals.
Reimer has won three consectuive games. He has allowed just four goals and has posted a .947 save percentage during that span. After a slow start this season, he has improved his record to 8-7-3.
2: Winger Jonathan Huberdeau is leading the Panthers in scoring with 44 points. He carried the Panthers to victory on Saturday with the game-tying assist and the go-ahead goal, and he had the only shootout goal of the game Monday.
“His vision is outstanding,” teammate Mike Hoffman said of Huberdeau. “Some people on the bench or on TV don’t even see his passes.”
Huberdeau is also 3-for-3 in shootout attempts this season.
3: The Panthers’ goals in regulation Monday were scored by rookie Henrik Borgstrom, 21; Jared McCann, 22; and rookie Jayce Hawryluk, who turned 23 on Tuesday.
McCann had the short-handed goal, the first of his career; Borgstrom has four goals in 12 career games; and Hawryluk has three goals in eight games.
4: The Panthers and general manager Dale Tallon made two trades in two days, acquiring a draft pick in each exchange.
On Saturday, the Panthers got a fifth-round pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs for third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson, 28, who was playing in the American Hockey League.
On Sunday, the Panthers got a third-round pick and defenseman Chris Wideman, 28, from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Alex Petrovic, 26. Wideman was a healthy scratch Monday.
In the first trade, the Panthers clearly made the determination that one of their top prospects, Samuel Montembeault, 22, is ready to be their third-string goalie. He is in his second season in the AHL, and, given how injury-prone Luongo and Reimer have been, Montebeault could be called up at any time.
In the second trade, the Panthers’ depth on the blueline allowed them to pick up a draft choice without too much of a cost in terms of moving Petrovic, who was their second-round pick in 2010 and will be a free agent at the end of this season.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Credit the Panthers’ coaches for challenging what would have been Detroit’s fourth goal, which was overturned due to an offsides violation.
▪ Florida faced a season-low 20 shots and won for the first time this season in a game they had zero power-play goals.
▪ Panthers winger Troy Brouwer played his 800th career game.
▪ Panthers second-line forward Nick Bjugstad, out with an upper-body injury, is skating extensively as he prepares to return.