"It's a good way for guys to find out who they're compatible with, who's going to be on what line, who's going to make up the power plays as we go through camp," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "Those are some of the things and some of the progress that leads to the final destination."
Early in the first half, Maxim Mamin broke the ice for Team Blue when he tapped a centering feed past Sergei Bobrovsky from in front to make it a 1-0 game. Soon after, Carter Verhaeghe evened up the game for Team Red when he took a saucer pass from Sam Reinhart and slipped behind the defense before roofing a nifty backhand shot over Spencer Knight to make it 1-1.
"He's got the NHL attributes that you're looking for in a big winger,'' Quenneville said of Mamin. "He can skate and move and shoot the puck. He found it in some really good areas today."
Once the first 25-minute half came to an end, both teams switched up their goaltenders. Sam Montembeault came into the game for Bobrovsky, while Christopher Gibson replaced Knight.
"I'm focusing on one shot at a time and trying to get my game together, all of the aspects of my game," Bobrovsky, who made some nice saves, said of his approach. "Just be ready, be sharp."
In the second half, Mamin continued to do damage around the crease. After Zac Dalpe tipped a shot form Kevin Connauton on net, Mamin, who spent the past three season in the KHL, quickly pounced on the ensuing rebound and beat Montembeault to put Team Blue back on top at 2-1.
Getting the game deadlocked once again, Juho Lammikko sent a pass through the slot right onto the blade of Ryan Lomberg, who then banged the rubber right past Gibson to make it 2-2.
With 50 minutes of play in the books and the score still even, the two teams then headed to a shootout. In the skills competition, Team Red was held without a goal while Mamin and Serron Noel each touched twine for Team Blue to secure a 3-2 victory in the first scrimmage of camp.
"I thought the scrimmage got better as it went on," Quenneville said. "In the second half of the first part, you could see the guys had more pace. One thing you can appreciate is there's a lot of skill out there and talent. I think last year there was probably a little more unfamiliarity among the guys on the ice. This year, I think everybody knows one another better. I liked the pace."
In preparation for their preseason doubleheader against the Predators on Sunday, the Panthers will hold another intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday sandwiched between a pair of practices.
"We're getting the speed back up," defenseman Brandon Montour said. "Guys have been off for a while and we're trying to get the pace going. It can be a little sloppy because we have only practiced once before. That happens early on. It's going to keep getting better and better."
MAMIN TO THE MAX
After potting a pair of goals in the scrimmage, Mamin earned high marks post-game.
"He had one of those days that really helped himself," Quenneville said. "You noticed him."
Originally taken by the Panthers in the sixth round (175th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft, Mamin appeared in 33 games with Florida over parts of two seasons from before making the decision to head back to Russia to compete for CSKA Moscow in the KHL during the 2018-19 campaign.
Finding his game on home soil, the 26-year-old forward broke out to the tune of 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 55 games with CSKA this past season, not including the 12 points (six goals, six assists) he tallied in 22 playoff games during the club's run to the Gagarin Cup Final.
Now back in North America after signing a one-year deal with the Panthers in July, Mamin, who stands 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, showed during today's scrimmage that he potentially has all of the tools necessary to be a successful power forward if he can work his way back into the NHL.
"I think he has the assets that you're looking for to be that type of guy," Quenneville said. "This is a good opportunity for him to show he can play here and grab a spot. It's not going to be easy for anybody. We talked about it yesterday that we were six lines deep, but there are always some surprises -- not that he's surprising us -- but there will be some developments as we go."
BOBROVSKY SETTLING IN
Between the pipes, Bobrovsky enjoyed his first taste of real action during the scrimmage.
"It's nice to see the shots and see the intensity," the two-time Vezina Trophy winner said.
With one scrimmage in the books and many more practices and exhibitions to come, Bobrovsky said he's focusing on fine-tuning all of the various "little details" of his routine in the days and weeks leading up to the regular-season opener against the Penguins in Sunrise on Oct. 14.
Ever the perfectionist, those adjustments and tweaks never truly come to an end.
"The process is continuing all the time," Bobrovsky said. "I'm never going to say, 'OK, I'm here and that's that.' It's a little up, a little down. It's two steps up. It always goes back and forth. You go, you practice, and you feel what you need to do extra or if you need some lighter stuff."
In 31 appearances in 2020-21, Bobrovsky, who is entering his third season in South Florida, posted a 19-8-2 record with a .906 save percentage. Looking ahead to the upcoming campaign, he's eager to get back to work, build off that performance and get back into a regular rhythm.
"I like to see the shots, to be in the game and don't think about anything," he said. "You just do you. You've got your net, you play there, you go into the game, and you have the trust on you."
Already laser focused on the task at hand, Bobrovsky's work is only just getting started.
"This is a new opportunity," he said. "I'm going to prepare myself to play my best hockey."
-- Joe Thornton and Anton Lundell were both absent from today's practice while dealing with minor ailments, according to Quenneville.
"They're really close to being out there," he said of the forward duo. "It's more precautionary."
-- John Ludvig, a third-round pick in 2019, is suffering from a lower-body injury.
"He's going to be probably a couple weeks," Quenneville said of the young defenseman.
FRIDAY'S SCRIMMAGE LINEUPS
Jonathan Huberdeau - Sam Bennett - Owen Tippett
Frank Vatrano - Noel Acciari - Patric Hornqvist
Maxim Mamin - Zac Dalpe - Aleksi Heponiemi
Justin Nachbaur - Justin Sourdif - Serron Noel
MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad
Matt Kiersted - Kevin Connauton
Max Gildon - Chase Priskie
Carter Verhaeghe - Aleksander Barkov - Sam Reinhart
Mason Marchment - Eetu Luostarinen - Anthony Duclair
Grigori Denisenko - Juho Lammikko - Ryan Lomberg
Logan Hutsko - Cole Schwindt - Henry Bowlby
Gustav Forsling - Brandon Montour
Markus Nutivaara - Radko Gudas
Lucas Carlsson - Noah Juulsen