Sunrise, FL – Seven glorious minutes of offense was the difference between the Florida Panthers and the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night, as Sam Reinhart delivered once again, while Anthony Stolarz made his Cats debut.
Sharks forward Fabian Zetterlund scored the opening goal of the game with 11:30 left in the second period – just five seconds before their 5-on-4 power play expired.
One minute, eighteen seconds later, Carter Verhaeghe put the Panthers on the board with a goal of his own. He stole the puck as the Sharks were leaving the Panthers’ offensive zone, toed the blue line to stay onside, and passed the puck away to set up an offensive attack. A few seconds later, the puck found Verhaeghe’s stick again with an assist from Matthew Tkachuk, and he subsequently fired a wrist shot from just outside the crease.
Just over five minutes later, Sam Reinhart got a rebound from a shot fired by Oliver Ekman-Larsson that fell off Sharks’ goalie, Mackenzie Blackwood right in front of the crease where Reinhart was able to bury the go-ahead goal.
THAT SNEAKY SAM pic.twitter.com/hkznhJcBgi
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) October 25, 2023
Prior to those two goals, the Panthers’ offense was stymied by Blackwood despite their best efforts. They ended the first period leading the Sharks 15-9 in shots on goal and created 13 high-danger scoring chances in the opening period, according to Natural Stat Trick.
The Panthers were close to adding onto that lead late in the second period when Mackie Samoskevich, recalled from AHL Charlotte prior to the game, stole the puck from Sharks defenseman Ty Emberson right at the blue line and flashed down the ice for a 1-on-1 rush against defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov. The rush was killed when Knyzhov took down Samoskevich in a very handsy manner right in front of the crease, which some may argue should’ve called for a penalty shot.
The Panthers iced the game with an empty-net goal by Kevin Stenlund with 1.5 seconds left in the game.
Kevin Stenlund empty-net goal. Panthers will win, 3-1
Reinhart’s hot start continues. Stolarz with a solid Panthers debut in goal
— Alex Krutchik (@AlexKrutchikFOF) October 25, 2023
Reinhart scores again
Sam Reinhart’s hot start continued Tuesday night with a goal in the second period. He came into Tuesday with six goals, good for third-most in the NHL in this young season.
While the 27-year-old had success with the Panthers in his first two years in Sunrise, he had slow starts before heating up midway through each season. Last year, Reinhart didn’t score his first goal until his 13th game of the season.
Reinhart is the only Panther so far to have a power-play goal, with three on the man-advantage.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had (a hot streak) this time of the year,” Reinhart said. “So it’s nice. When it doesn’t go up at the start of the year, it’s a lot worse than when it’s in the middle of the year because you have nothing to fall back on. So you know, it just adds to that pressure. So to be able to start like this is obviously nice.”
Stolarz solid debut
Florida goaltender Anthony Stolarz made his Panthers debut Tuesday, with Sergei Bobrovsky having started the first six games of the season.
Stolarz! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/vUCDHiJsck
— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) October 25, 2023
Stolarz, a 29-year-old free agent signing for Florida over the summer, stopped 27 of 28 shots. His only goal allowed was during a 5-on-4 penalty kill for Florida that saw Fabian Zetterlund score from in front of the crease in the second period.
Stolarz, who most recently played for the Anaheim Ducks for the last four seasons, stood on his head in the final moments of Tuesday’s victory. Leading 2-1 on the penalty kill with 3:14 remaining in the third period. Stolarz stopped a slapshot from the blue line by former Panther Mike Hoffman. Unable to corral the rebound, a scrum ensued in front of the net. Stolarz lost his stick during the scrum but was still able to lunge from one side of the crease to the other and flick the puck away with his hand.
“He’s earned it because he’s worked really hard”, Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said. “He did it straight through camp. And he knows the job, so he knows those practices have to be his games and he really prepared himself very well. He looked in the net tonight the way he has in practice. Big man, efficient, not a lot of scramble to his game.”
Next up, the Florida Panthers host the Seattle Kraken on Saturday, October 28th, at 6 p.m.
📸 Credit: (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)