FLORIDA PANTHERSThe Panthers enter the new week on a three-game winning streak after taking care of business against Columbus (twice) and in the first of a two-game set against Chicago that concludes tonight. They continue their excellent start to the season with a 6-1-1 record in their last eight games, with their only dropped points coming against division rival Carolina. They pulled off their weekly dramatic comeback against Columbus on Thursday, erasing a three-goal deficit in the third period and then winning in overtime.
The race to the top of the Central continues to be a race to the top of the league. Tampa Bay, Carolina and Florida now own the NHL’s best records in terms of points percentage, in that order.
Even with the Panthers’ depth on defense that was created by a handful of preseason moves, former Checker Gustav Forsling appears to have found a home in the Panthers’ top six. He continues to average nearly 20 minutes of ice time alongside rugged veteran Radko Gudas.
After tonight’s game against Chicago, in which the Panthers will try to create even more distance between the Central's big three and the fourth-place Blackhawks, Florida moves on to face Nashville twice (Thursday and Saturday) and then has a quick turnaround for a big test in Tampa on Sunday afternoon.
SYRACUSE CRUNCHThe Crunch played just one game last week after Friday’s scheduled contest against Utica was rescheduled due to COVID-19 protocols. Their other game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went swimmingly, with Panthers prospect Samuel Montembeault picking up his fifth career shutout despite the Penguins holding a 37-22 shots advantage.
After going scoreless in his first four professional games, Serron Noel, the Panthers’ second-round pick in 2018, has three points in his last two following a two-helper effort on Saturday. Rookie John Ludvig had another assist to extend his point streak to four games.
The Crunch are scheduled to play twice this week – at Rochester on Wednesday and against Utica on Saturday.
MONTY!— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) March 14, 2021
A 37-save shutout! 🛑 pic.twitter.com/DCaa1fcs6Z
GREENVILLE SWAMP RABBITSOur ECHL affiliate in Greenville went 2-0-1 in a three-game series against Jacksonville to extend their point streak to four games. They retain their hold on the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division over South Carolina, which has seven fewer points but two games in hand.
Panthers prospect Ryan Bednard may be up for his fourth Goaltender of the Week award of the season after backstopping the Swamp Rabbits in all three games, stopping 80 of 85 shots in the process. His week included a 1-0 victory in which he also stopped all three challengers in the shootout. He now leads the league with 14 wins and three shutouts.
MVP MVP MVP pic.twitter.com/54E3VwfEHM— Greenville Swamp Rabbits (@SwampRabbits) March 14, 2021
IN OTHER NEWS
- Alex Nedeljkovic was an agonizing 10 seconds away from his second shutout of the season last night, though his 25 saves were still enough to help the Hurricanes beat Detroit 2-1 for their eighth straight win. He’s making the most of his first extended NHL opportunity, as he’s now 6-2-1 with a 2.08 goals-against average and .929 save percentage this season.
Nedeljk🚫vic pic.twitter.com/IkS2BIIzxX— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) March 14, 2021
- Former Checkers were all over the score sheet in Carolina’s 5-1 win over Nashville on Thursday. Playing his first NHL game in a month, Morgan Geekie scored his first two goals of the season, with Brock McGinn and Martin Necas also finding the back of the net. Jake Bean had two assists and was named third star.
- Janne Kuokkanen has goals in four straight games for the New Jersey Devils. He’s up to 11 points in 20 outings this season.
- Panthers prospect Spencer Knight earned Goaltender of the Year honors and was the lone unanimous selection on Hockey East’s First All-Star team. The 13th overall draft choice in 2019 had a 1.99 goals-against average and .937 save percentage through 19 games and will lead No. 1 Boston College to the Hockey East Semifinals on Wednesday.
- Henrik Borgstrom, another Panthers first-round pick who split the last two seasons between Florida and AHL Springfield but is playing in his native Finland this season, scored this beautiful between-the-legs goal last week. He’s up to 19 points (11g, 8a) in 27 games with HIFK.
Borgy’s 11th goal of the season is a beauty! https://t.co/DPAd6sOxBV— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) March 12, 2021
- Defensive prospect Max Gildon, who started the season with Syracuse but ended up joining AHL Bakersfield on loan, has six points in his first four pro games for the Condors. The 6'3" rookie also picked up a fighting major in his debut.
- Clark Bishop played his first two games as an Ottawa Senator and picked up the primary helper on this goal by Ryan Dzingel on Sunday.