Jonathan Huberdeau — Courtesy: NHL
Jonathan Huberdeau had two goals, including the game-winning shot in overtime on Tuesday evening, and the Florida Panthers outpaced the Toronto Maple Leafs, 7-6, after falling behind by four goals for the second time in three games.
Huberdeau also had three assists in the victory, becoming the first Florida Panther in franchise history to record a 100-point season. At 102, Huberdeau ended the night second in the league in scoring.
The Panthers, owners of the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference if the season ended on Tuesday, may end up playing the Maple Leafs in the postseason, and if that is the case, the league will be in for some fun. Tuesday’s game featured six power-play goals, four goalies, two short-handed goals, and fans of both teams up on their feet rallying for most of the night.
“It is incredible. The atmosphere was awesome,” Huberdeau said. “We’ve got to stop getting down by four goals, but just with the character of the team, we came back again tonight. A good win.”
On Saturday, Florida trickled close behind the New Jersey Devils, 6-2, in the third period before hitting five straight to end the game, including the winning shot in overtime.
On Tuesday, backup goaltender Spencer Knight was called up, relieving an ineffective Sergei Bobrovsky. Knight allowed two goals on 21 shots in registering the win, while Bobrovsky allowed four in 14 shots.
“He didn’t start but he came in ready, obviously made some huge saves,” Huberdeau said of Knight. “And he came out with a big win.”
Florida has now won five games in a row, and eight out of nine. The league’s most notable acquisition at the trade deadline, Claude Giroux, who came to Florida from the Philadelphia Flyers, made his first goal as a Panther in the win.
“We’re really good at home, and it’s because of these guys,” Huberdeau said as he pointed to the fans in his postgame in-arena interview on the bench. “Let’s keep it going.”
If the season came to an end on Tuesday, the Panthers would face the Washington Capitals, while Tampa Bay would meet Toronto in Round 1.
“It’s been a stressful month, playing some sloppy hockey, and we have to figure out and sort a few things out defensively,” Florida defenseman MacKenzie Weegar said. “Our structure just isn’t there. We’re finding ways to win, obviously. But in the playoffs, it’s going to be hard to come back from four or five goals.”
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Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.