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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 5, Hurricanes 1

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 4 1 0 0 5
Hurricanes 0 1 0 0 1
FLA - J. Huberdeau (1), PP - B. Campbell (1), PP - B. Campbell (2), PP - S. Upshall (1), A. Kovalev (1)
CAR - P. Dwyer (1)

SUNRISE, Fla. ( — Brian Campbell scored two power-play goals and Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists in his NHL debut as the Florida Panthers opened defense of their Southeast Division title with a 5-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes before a sellout crowd of 19,688 at the BB&T Center on Saturday night.

Veteran Alex Kovalev, who was signed after attending Panthers camp on a tryout basis, also had a goal and two assists. Scottie Upshall had the other first-period power-play goal for the Panthers, who jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first 20 minutes.

"Kris Versteeg came out 30 minutes before the game and said it was a mad house out there. He said he went to get off the Sawgrass and it took him 35 minutes to get here so that filters down. The players feel the buzz and what a turnout we had and fortunately for us I feel like we put on a pretty entertaining show."

- Head coach Kevin Dineen.
1. Well Hello There: Head coach Kevin Dineen put together three newbies to form a second line and hoped they would gel and completent the top scoring line. They did more than that and they started it off early. Wingers Jonathan Huberdeau and Alex Kovalev being centered by Peter Mueller got the team on the board just 3:37 into the game. Kovalev found Mueller behind the net who in turn found Huberdeau stationed in front of the net. The Panthers first round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft one-timed the shot past Cam Ward on the very first Florida shot of the game. The duo of Kovalev and Huberdeau weren't done as they picked up two more points with Huberdeau setting up both Scottie Upshall for the fourth goal of the game and Kovalev for the fifth goal of the game. Kovalev set up Brian Campbell for his second goal of the game. The line combined for seven points (2-5-7) on the night.

2. A Powering First: The Panthers got out to a roaring start after that first goal and they did it thanks to the power play. There, they connected on three different goals. The first two came off beautiful top shelf shots from Campbell while Huberdeau found Upshall in the slot. The Panthers had one of the better power plays in the league last season, finishing 7th overall with a 18.5% scoring percentage and it looks like they didn't miss a beat as they scored those three times. Scoring four times overall, they put the game pretty much out of hand after just 20 minutes of play as Carolina pulled Ward in favor of Dan Ellis to start the second period.

3. Pretty Much A Perfect Night: Ok so there was sloppy play as Dineen mentioned in his post-game press conference but that's to be expected with only a scrimmage to get ready of the season. But from the very beginning, it had the makings of a great night. First it was a crowd of 19,688 seeing two new banners unveiled, the 2011-12 Southeast Division Championship banner and the 7th Man banner. Then it was the opening period that saw new faces make impacts and get out to a dominating lead. And finally after Kovalev made it a 5-0 lead and despite Carolina ruining Jose Theodore's shutout, who should be mentioned as he was strong in turning aside 41 shots on the night, the rats rained down as the clock hit zero as the Panthers earned their first two critical points in a shortened season. Not a bad way to start it off, that's for sure.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@lizzilizz: The Rats flew tonight! Great @FlaPanthers win & I got my cap autographed by most of the players #GoCats #BelieveRED

@Jvan14: Congrats @JonnyHuby11 on your flawless first goal! Thanks to the @FlaPanthers for an amazing game!!!!! #thecatsareback #FlaPanthers

@Britstar223: GAH being sick and going to a hockey game is horrible cus now I can't even speak! But it's worth it for a 5-1 domination! @FlaPanthers

@steffft25: Literally epic night thank you @FlaPanthers ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

@WPFritts: Way to go @FlaPanthers that's a great way to start the year.

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Rob Isaacson: Way to go Catz welcome back, Yeah Hubie!

Garrett Carlson: I know its just one game and there will be rookie mistakes and a learning curve to go through, but wow Huberdeau is going to be fun to watch. His vision and awareness of everyone on the ice tonight was unbelievable.

Wendy Shain: Yey! A great start to an incREDible season hopefully!

Jim Morin: Not only a great season start but think what this means for the future of the team down the road.

Kévin Houle: Kovy-Huby good match


1. Super rook Jonathan Huberdeau didn't waste any time in making his presence felt as he scored his first NHL goal on his very first NHL shot. The goal, with Huberdeau stationed above the crease came 3:37 into the game.

2. Patrolling the blue line, Lady Byng winner Brian Campbell is expected to put up the assist more than the goal but he scored two power play goals in the opening period. It was the second time he's had a multiple point game in his NHL career, also accomplishing the feat on Nov. 17, 2005 against Washington.

3. Huberdeau and fellow line mate had debuts to remember as the duo each posted three point nights. They did it on identical 1-2-3 stat lines. The duo registered assists on each of the others goals and picked up another along the way.

4. Florida posted four goals in the opening period, getting the crowd into it early. The last time the Panthers recorded four goals in a period came on Dec. 17, 2010 when they did it in the first period against Buffalo.

6. Florida found themselves on the man advantage six different times. They also found themselves killing off penalties on six occasions. The special teams were fantastic as the power play scored on 50% of it's chances while the penalty kill was just as good, killing off all six Hurricanes attempts.

Jonathan Huberdeau
Got the Panthers off to a quick start and had a great first NHL game to say the least finishing with the three points on five shots.

 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 3 Points, 5 Shots, +2, 14:25 TOI
After a practice day on Sunday, the Panthers will head to Canada for two games on Monday and Tuesday. First, they'll be in Ottawa as they take on the Senators and then travel to Montreal to play the Canadiens. It'll be a return home of sorts for Kovalev as he spent time with both organizations.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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