MIN 2, FLA 0; Florida Panthers Get Shut Out Despite Shot Barrage

Florida Panthers shut out

Sunrise, Florida – The road back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs began with a shut out loss for the Florida Panthers. Featuring eight new skaters in the lineup – including forward Mackie Samoskevich and defenseman Uvis Balinksis making their NHL debuts – the Panthers could not get past Minnesota Wild goalie Filip Gustavsson, losing 2-0 despite outshooting them 41-22

Wild defenseman Brock Faber fired a shot from the blue line halfway through the first period for the opening goal of the season.

Minnesota notched another goal during a 4-on-3 powerplay with 7:04 left in the second period. The puck glanced off a Panthers skater in the slot and landed on the stick of Wild forward Joel Eriksson Ek, who buried the puck into the back of the net.

Panthers got goalie’d

The Panthers put up 41 shots, and Minnesota goalie Filip Gustavsson stopped all of them. One game into their season, the Panthers have matched last season’s total amount of shutouts against them (one).

It wasn’t for lack of effort though. The Panthers maintained possession for much of the first period, rarely allowing Minnesota to get past the center line, much less set up an offensive attack. Florida put up 14 shots in the first period, and were leading in shots on goal, 10-2, when the Wild scored their first goal. The Panthers had a couple of high-quality scoring chances in the opening period thanks to newcomer winger Evan Rodrigues. One was a one-timer during a powerplay late in the period, while the other came when Rodrigues carried the puck from his own blue line to his attacking red line, outskating multiple Wild players, and setting up a pass into the slot for Carter Verhaeghe. Alas, Gustavsson poked the puck away from his crease and ended the scoring threat.

The Panthers, down 2-0 with 8:35 to go in the third period, had a chance to put a dent in Minnesota’s lead. It was during the 5-on-4 powerplay. Reinhart, standing next the the post, got a rebound but couldn’t bury it past Gustavsson. Florida fired five shots on goal during that powerplay.

Overall, the Panthers were 0-for-3 on the powerplay Thursday. 

Mackie Samoskevich makes most of his debut

The 20-year-old rookie impressed during the preseason and training camp after spending the latter half of the 2022-23 season with the Panthers’ AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers. Many around the organization knew Samoskevich would impress quickly, it was just a matter of “how fast?”

The answer: very fast – both figuratively and literally. Samoskevich was very active on the third line with Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart. The University of Michigan alum had a handful of serious chances to score in Thursday’s opener. A shot rang off the crossbar from the right faceoff circle in the early second period. There was another opportunity off a rebound right in front of the net a few minutes later. Samoskevich also had a high-quality shot from the slot during a Panthers powerplay late in the second period.

Samoskevich, who also spent a few minutes on the second line with Matthew Tkachuk and Eetu Luostarinen in the third period, exhibited speed that rivaled perhaps anyone else on the ice.  He took the puck all the way from his own blue line and beat a man to enter the offensive zone. Traveling along the boards he turned to make a cross-ice pass into the slot which was ultimately deflected away.

What’s next?

After the shut out, the Florida Panthers continue their season-opening road trip on Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. against the Winnipeg Jets.

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