We knew Coach Quenneville would make an impact with the Panthers for the better when he was hired, but I don’t think any expected a win like Panthers had last night.
Panthers took down the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in the home opener at the BB&T Center Saturday night. After dropping 5-2 on Thursday in an away bout against Tampa Panthers fans were a bit concerned thinking maybe the team can’t change.
“No more excuses. We’re not going to need them.” flashed in front of an almost soldout crowd during pre-game ceremonies before an exciting intro video and lineup announcements.
Well, Mr. Mike Hoffman changed the thoughts of fans quickly after a quiet first period.
“We wanted to come out and have a strong presence on our home ice, the fans were into the game right from the start. It was a fun building to play in, and we wanted to put on a good performance for them. Throughout the whole lineup, everyone was there ready to go.” Hoffman said.
Coming into the second period the Panthers showed brute force in the Lightning zone quickly taking a two-goal lead thanks to Hoffman, but he wasn’t done as his third goal to start the 3rd period had Cats fans pumped.
A 4-1 lead and 19:43 remaining in the game doesn’t much though when facing the best team in the NHL last season. Tampa made a nice 2 unanswered goal come back during Power Plays to close to gap to a one-goal deficit.
That’s where the biggest offseason signing for the Panthers happened. Sergi Bobrovsky showed his skills in front of the net to destroy hopes of a Lightning comeback win or tie.
Bobrovsky save 32 of 35 shots with half of the shots coming in the 3rd period.
“Those are the reasons why we won this hockey game. Without those saves, they’d probably have seven or eight [goals]. He kept us in it and gave everyone life on the bench.” Hoffman said on Bobrovsky.
Hoffman’s hat trick is the first opening night hat trick in Panthers history
Panthers stay home to take on the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night 7 p.m. and can be heard here on FOX Sports 640 with Doug Plagens.
-Elliot EL Brownstein @Elliot640FT