Panthers extend their winning streak to six games
The Florida Panthers continued their impressive run of form with a convincing 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. The Panthers, who have won six of their last seven games, were led by their star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 35 saves for his third shutout of the season.
Bobrovsky was in top form throughout the game, denying the Avalanche’s high-powered offense, which features the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog. He made several key stops, especially on the penalty kill, where the Panthers held the Avalanche scoreless on four opportunities.
Bobrovsky received a standing ovation from the Amerant Bank Arena crowd, who chanted his name in appreciation of his performance. He thanked the fans for their support and credited his teammates for making his job easier.
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Bobrovsky said. “I appreciate the support, I appreciate the cheering because it’s great for me. But I thought the team made me a star.”
Panthers score early and often
The Panthers wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard, as Carter Verhaeghe opened the scoring with a power-play goal midway through the first period. Verhaeghe pounced on his own rebound and banked it in off the post, after receiving a cross-ice pass from Aleksander Barkov.
Sam Reinhart doubled the lead with another power-play goal late in the first period, tapping in a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau at the doorstep. Reinhart extended his league lead in power-play goals to 22, which is more than six other teams in the NHL.
The Panthers added two more goals in the second period, as Eetu Luostarinen and Barkov found the back of the net. Luostarinen scored his ninth of the season with a wrist shot from the slot, while Barkov snapped his 18-game goal drought with a backhand move on a breakaway. Barkov also had two assists, giving him 61 points in 51 games this season.
The Panthers outshot the Avalanche 43-35 and dominated the puck possession battle, as they controlled 58.7 percent of the shot attempts at even strength, according to Natural Stat Trick. They also won 57 percent of the faceoffs and blocked 17 shots.
Avalanche suffer fourth straight loss
The Avalanche, who entered the game as the highest-scoring team in the NHL, were shut out for the first time this season. They have lost four consecutive games, matching their longest losing streak of the season.
The Avalanche were unable to solve Bobrovsky, who made 10 high-danger saves and had an expected goals-against of 3.44, according to Natural Stat Trick. They also failed to capitalize on their power-play chances, extending their drought to 0-for-16 since the break.
To make matters worse, the Avalanche lost their star center MacKinnon in the third period, after he landed headfirst on the ice following a collision with Barkov. MacKinnon, who has 60 points in 48 games this season, left the game with a cut on his chin and did not return. Coach Jared Bednar did not have an update on his status after the game.
“I haven’t talked to the trainer yet, but you saw the play,” Bednar said. “He hit his chin on the ice and it got cut open a little bit. He went in for some work but we haven’t got an update.”
The Avalanche will look to snap their skid on Monday, when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second game of their four-game road trip. The Panthers will host the New York Islanders on Tuesday, as they try to maintain their lead in the Atlantic Division.