The Florida Panthers have had a very impressive start to the 2021 season. After multiple postponements of games between the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes, the Panthers have been given more time to prepare for their next opponents.
This was not the case for Detroit, but the Panthers came to Michigan ready to play aggressive hockey.
The first matchup between Florida and Detroit started as a scoring festival in the first period. The Panthers jumped on the goal train quickly, entering the scoring sheet just over three minutes played. After Detroit scored two unanswered in the middle of the opening frame, Florida ended the first period strong with a game-tying goal with 0.6 seconds from defenseman Keith Yandle.
The youth of the Panthers was the talk of the night, and it also ended that way. Second-round draft pick Aleksi Heponiemi impressed in his NHL debut, scoring his first career Goal, while also recording his first career point in the Panthers’ 3-2 win.
The second game started the complete opposite way for Florida. In the first five minutes of the game, the Panthers had two men sent to the Penalty box and and let a goal go. The shining component of Florida’s game throughout the series was their power play/penalty kill. Through two games, the Panthers capitalized on 4-7 power-play opportunities while staying perfect on the penalty kill, shutting down seven total power-play chances for Detroit.
With two power-play goals in the second period, Carter Verhaeghe continued his point-netting ways by adding an insurance goal, almost midway through the third period. The Panthers would hold out in a dramatic finish with a final score of 3-2. This puts Florida’s record at 5-0-1, marking the best start in franchise history.
“We’ve been working really hard and we’ve been enjoying working really hard as a group. That’s the outcome.” captain Aleksander Barkov said.
Star of the Series: Keith Yandle (1G, 2A)
Yandle’s offensive attack has helped immensely throughout the first six games of the season, especially against Detroit. Yandle’s passing game has allowed Florida to keep the puck in desperate times, which leads to open lanes that create big chances for goals.