The First NHL Win for Spencer Knight! Florida Panthers Game Recap — Game 47 vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets:
It was the first career NHL appearance for goaltender Spencer Knight, the Florida Panthers’ 2019 first-round pick. Coach Joel Quenneville stated after last night’s game that there was a “good chance” Knight would make his first NHL appearance in the game tonight, and it was confirmed after the morning skate. It would be Knight in net for Florida, and Joonas Korpisalo in net for the Blue Jackets.
The Florida Panthers gave Spencer Knight the absolute best thing they could give a rookie goalie making his NHL debut, an early lead. Aleksander Barkov would score his team-leading 19th goal of the season at 6:52 of the first period. The goal would be assisted by Nikita Gusev (5) and Mason Marchment (7).
The Panthers would double their lead over Columbus 14 seconds after the Barkov goal when Sam Bennett would score his sixth goal of the season at 7:04. The goal was assisted by Anthony Duclair (16) and Jonathan Huberdeau (32).
Florida was out to an early 2–0 lead, and they were keeping the play clean in front of Knight. They weren’t able to keep Columbus off the scoreboard all night however, as Jack Roslovic was able to score his 10th goal of the season, this one on the Power Play at 16:16 in the first period. The goal would be assisted by Cam Atkinson (17) and Oliver Bjorkstrand (20). Florida would be unable to add to the lead after Columbus brought the score to 2–1, and would take the lead heading into the first intermission.
The second period is where the Panthers would completely take over the game, and it would start relatively early. Sam Bennett would score his second goal of the game, and seventh of the season, at 7:04 in the second period. The goal was assisted by Jonathan Huberdeau (33) and Anthony Duclair (17)
Florida’s Ryan Lomberg would engage in a fight with Columbus’ Kole Sherwood on the ensuing face-off, and each would receive 5 minute major penalties for fighting. The fight clearly amped up Lomberg, because shortly after he came out of the penalty box he scored his second goal of the season off of a beautiful tip-in from mid-air. The goal would be assisted by Frank Vatrano (7) and Markus Nutivaara (8).
The offensive explosion would not stop with score showing 4–1 in favor of the Panthers. The Huberdeau line would cash in for a third time in the game less than two minutes after Lomberg’s goal. This time it would be Huberdeau scoring his 16th goal of the season, with assists coming from Anthony Duclair (18) and Radko Gudas (7).
Huberdeau nets slick Duclair dish
Jonathan Huberdeau receives a nifty Anthony Duclair set-up and rifles a wrist shot inside the far post from the circle…
The Huberdeau line would combine for eight points in the game tonight. Duclair had three assists, Huberdeau had a goal and two assists, and Bennett had two goals. The Panthers would blow the game wide open in the second period, and would head into the third period with a 5–1 lead.
For Spencer Knight this was probably the easiest assignment he could have asked for in his first NHL appearance. A 5–1 lead leaves a goaltender playing very loose and comfortable, and Knight was making some great saves when he needed to down the stretch. There was almost a chance for Sam Bennett to record a third goal for the hat-trick, however Korpisalo would make a fantastic save with his skate to keep the puck from going over the line. Columbus would attempt to comeback, but it was far too little-too late. The final horn would sound, and Spencer Knight would record his first career NHL win.
The Three Stars from tonight’s game:
- Spencer Knight, G (FLA): 33 saves on 34 shots, W
- Sam Bennett, C (FLA): 2 goals
- Jonathan Huberdeau, LW (FLA): 1 goal, 2 assists
The Panthers now have points in their last 5 games, and remain tied for first place in the Central Division with the Carolina Hurricanes with 65 points.
The Panthers will play again on Thursday, Apr. 22nd against the Carolina Hurricanes. It will be the first game in a two-game set against the Hurricanes, and it will also be the last time that the two teams meet this season. That game will start at 7 p.m. ET.