Unfortunately for Miami fans, the hot Hurricanes – at least at this moment – are the ones that play hockey, not the collegiate football team.
For much of Tuesday night, it looked like goalie James Reimer – dumped by the Panthers for very little in return – should’ve gotten their $70 million, and not Sergei Bobrovsky.
Reimer made 47 saves as his Carolina Hurricanes – who are off to a 4-0 start for the first time since moving to Raleigh in 1997 – scored the game’s first five goals and held on to defeat the host Panthers 6-3.
“You’re just willing yourself to make saves,” said Reimer, who stopped 40 shots in the final two periods. “You try to stay square and hope the puck hits you.”
Carolina had prevailed in its first three games despite trailing in the third period, rallying to win after regulation. But, on Tuesday, the Hurricanes raced to a 4-0 first-period lead with goals by Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen, Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Dzingel.
“You can’t get down at home like that,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “It’s got to bother you. It’s got to hurt.”
Reimer, traded by the Panthers in June for minimal return (a sixth-round pick and a player no longer in the NHL), allowed two late power-play goals to make the score more respectable.
Bobrovsky, the former Columbus Blue Jackets goalie the Panthers signed in July for $70 million over seven years, stopped 10 of 14 shots and was lifted after just one period.
Dzingel finished with two goals for the Hurricanes, who are 4-0 against the Panthers since the start of last season.
After killing off a 5-on-3 penalty, Carolina opened the scoring with 6:48 gone in the first period as Staal quickly pounced on a carom to get the puck past Bobrovsky.
Less than five minutes later, Teravainen deflected a Haydn Fleury shot for his first goal of the season.
Hamilton’s goal made it 3-0 as he took a great pass from Andrei Scechnikov, who had been stuffed on a breakaway but collected his own rebound and made the cross-ice feed.
Dzingel’s first tally made it four Hurricanes goals in less than 12 minutes. On a power play, Dzingel deflected a Teravainen shot for his first goal as a member of the Hurricanes.
The second period started the same way for Carolina as Dzingel beat backup goalie Sam Montembeault.
“We have to find a way to not let their guys in front of the net,” said Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle, who played in his 800th consecutive game, the first American-born player to accomplish the feat.
“Their first goal, I don’t want to say ‘lucky’, but it went off one of our defensemen’s skates and right to their guy [Staal]. It was one of those bang-bang plays.”
The Panthers finally got on the board with 3:51 expired in the second period as defenseman MacKenzie Weegar scored his first goal of the season after a scramble in front of Reimer. Aleksander Barkov earned the assist.
The Panthers cut their deficit to 5-2 on Yandle’s one-timer, power-play goal with 10:26 left in the third period. Yandle took a pass from Mike Hoffman and found an opening under Reimer’s left armpit for his first goal of the season.
Evgenii Dadonov’s power-play goal with 4:08 left in the third period made the score 5-3.
But Sebastian Aho ended the suspense by scoring an empty-net goal with 79 seconds left in the game.
“We fought to the end,” Yandle said. “It’s a good sign that we didn’t roll over.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Montembeault was sharp in his first game of the season, stopping 19 of the 21 shots he faced. It was just the 12th NHL game for “Monty”, who turns 23 on Oct. 30.
▪ Hoffman, who had four goals in Florida’s first two games this season, became more of a passer on Tuesday with his first two assists of the campaign.
▪ Healthy scratches for the Panthers were defenseman Josh Brown and forward Denis Malgin.
▪ The Panthers are the 15th-best team in the NHL, according to Yahoo Sports’ latest power rankings.
▪ The Panthers’ next three games are on the road: Friday at the Buffalo Sabres, Saturday at the New York Islanders and Monday at the New Jersey Devils. The Panthers return home on Oct. 18 against the Colorado Avalanche.