The ice is down, the sticks are taped and the doors have all but opened at BB&T Center for the Florida Panthers home opener.
After a 3-2 overtime road loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, the Panthers walked away with many positives they can bring into their first home game of the season tomorrow night. After all, four of the Florida Panthers Young Guns found their names on the scoresheet in the close contest. D Erik Gudbranson (goal), F Jonathan Huberdeau (goal), D Dylan Olsen (assist) and D Aaron Ekblad (assist) all recorded points, with Ekblad earning his first NHL point in his first NHL game.
The four lines the Panthers rolled out showed strong chemistry in the season’s first matchup, with both goals scored by Florida occurring at even strength.
“I thought five-on-five we played real well,” said head coach Gerard Gallant.
“Five-on-five we were the better team in my opinion, but we gave them too many power plays and that was the difference in the game.”
The Panthers are set to take on the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night in their home debut and look to pick up where they left off in Tampa Bay. The team gelled and played the type of hard working game Gallant seeks from his team.
“I want to see the same work ethic we had in Tampa”, said Gallant about the impending matchup against the Devils.
“It’s always exciting for your home opener, but we want to be ready to play a good New Jersey Devils team. We’ll prepare like we would prepare for any other night and hopefully get some good results.”
G Roberto Luongo turned away 29 of 32 shots against the Lightning on Thursday night, allowing zero even strength goals. Impressed with the team’s work ethic and strong play against Tampa Bay, Luongo looks forward to the home opener.
“I’m very excited,” said Luongo.
“The guys are excited about playing at home in front of our crowd. Especially after last night, even though we didn’t win. We just have got to give it our all, get a win under our belts and feel good about ourselves.”
Prior to the game’s start, Panthers Special Advisor to the General Manager Alternate Governor, Bill Torrey and Panthers television analyst, Denis Potvin will drop the puck. The two Hall of Famers won four consecutive Stanley Cups together (1979-83). Torrey as General Manager of the Islanders, drafted Potvin first overall in 1973. Potvin went on to become one of the most dominant defensemen of his era, and captained the Islanders during their Stanley Cup years.