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game recap

Jonathan Huberdeau scores game-winner for Panthers

Breaks tie with Ducks in season debut after injury

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Jonathan Huberdeau scored the tiebreaking goal in his first game of the season, and the Florida Panthers defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 at BB&T Center on Friday.

Huberdeau, who missed the first 51 games because of an Achilles injury, broke a 1-1 tie with 4:58 left in the second period. He scored on a one-timer off a pass from Aleksander Barkov, who was in the lineup after missing 15 games because of a back injury.

"You all know when you miss like four months of playing, your first goal, it's always special, and that's what it was tonight," Huberdeau said. "I kind of fanned on it, too, and it went in. It felt pretty good, and I think it's just focusing to get better and come back stronger."

Huberdeau and defenseman Keith Yandle led the Panthers with six shots each.

 

WATCH: All Ducks vs. Panthers highlights

 

"Huberdeau is a real strong kid this year physically and it showed tonight," Panthers coach Tom Rowe said. "For him to be out the entire year and to have the stamina that he has is a credit to him for staying with the program and taking care of himself during the injury."

Reilly Smith scored for the Panthers (23-19-10), who have won three in a row for the first time this season. Yandle had two assists.

Video: ANA@FLA: Smith crashes the net to tally goal

James Reimer, who missed a scheduled start Tuesday because of the birth of his daughter, made 22 saves for his 100th NHL win.

The Panthers limited the Ducks to three shots in the third period, but Reimer had to make a save on Corey Perry in the final minute to preserve the lead.

"Busy (week)," Reimer said. "It's been a lot of fun. A happy time for our family, and the win tonight is the cherry on top."

Hampus Lindholm scored for the Ducks (28-16-9), who began a six-game road trip. John Gibson, making his 15th start in 17 games, made 35 saves.

Video: ANA@FLA: Lindholm nets wrister through crowd in front

Lindholm made it 1-0 at 9:39 of the first period after Antoine Vermette won a faceoff in the Florida zone. Lindholm beat Reimer with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle.

Smith tied it 13 seconds later when Jason Demers' pass from the corner bounced in off his right skate.

"He made a great play and he positioned his skate perfectly to put that in," Demers said. "It was good to get that back and respond right after they scored."

 
Goal of the game

After taking a pass from Yandle at 4-on-4, Barkov absorbed a check in the Anaheim zone before passing to Huberdeau between the skates of defenseman Cam Fowler.

Video: ANA@FLA: Huberdeau scores in his first game of season

 
Save of the game

Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano was alone in front of the net after taking a pass from Ryan Getzlaf and made Reimer go to the ice by hanging on to the puck while moving to his backhand. But Reimer was able to get his skate on the first-period shot.

Video: ANA@FLA: Reimer stretches for skate save on Cogliano

 
Highlight of the game

Huberdeau set up defenseman Alex Petrovic for a scoring opportunity in the first period when he fed him with a blind backhand pass in the left circle.

Video: ANA@FLA: Gibson denies Petrovic's chance in the slot

 
Unsung performance of the game

Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr had an open net after getting a bouncing puck off the end boards in the second period, but Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen was able to get his stick on the shot before it reached the goal line to knock it behind the net.

Video: ANA@FLA: Vatanen hustles back to stifle Jagr's chance

 
They said it

"He's been real solid, you can't deny that. In a game like tonight we wasted a strong performance from our goaltender." -- Ducks coach Randy Carlyle on John Gibson

 

"[Reimer] is unbelievable. He's a character, character guy. He's had a very emotional week with the baby and going through that adjustment in his life. And for him to be able to come in and play the way he did tonight, and especially those two huge saves in the third period were unbelievable." -- Panthers coach Tom Rowe

 

"I had a lot of fun out there. It wasn't my best game. I felt a little tired there at the end, but for the first game I'm pretty happy with myself and the team." - Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau

 
Need to know

Vatanen left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Carlyle did not provide an update afterward. … Huberdeau played 17:30. He scored in last season's final game, April 9 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

 
What's next

Ducks: At the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; SUN, PRIME, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-W, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Huberdeau lifts Panthers past Ducks, 2-1

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