NHL postpones Panthers next 2 games after Hurricanes players are added to COVID list

Florida was scheduled to play at Carolina Thursday and Saturday

Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers gets into position in front of Goaltender Collin Delia of the Chicago Blackhawks at the BB&T Center on January 17, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida. (Joel Auerbach, 2021 Getty Images)

SUNRISE, Fla. – The games in hand joke is starting to get old, but it just won’t go away.

The NHL announced on Wednesday that it was postponing Carolina Hurricanes games through Saturday, Jan. 23 due to five players being placed on the league’s COVID protocol absence list.

Carolina was scheduled to play the Florida Panthers on Thursday and Saturday. Those games will now be moved to later dates, further condensing a Panthers schedule that has already had two earlier postponed games squeezed in.

Florida’s next scheduled game is on Tuesday, Jan. 26 when they begin a now-abbreviated road trip with two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The trip wraps up with two games in Detroit on the following Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30 and 31.

Instead of spending the next several days in Raleigh, the Panthers will remain in South Florida and use the time to hold more practices at the BB&T Center.

After having the first two games of the season postponed due to a COVID outbreak among the Dallas Stars, Florida just wrapped up a two-game set against the Chicago Blackhawks with a pair of victories on home ice.

A convincing 5-2 triumph on eventual Opening Night was followed Tuesday by an exciting comeback, capped off by Frank Vatrano’s game-winning goal in overtime.

“It was an exciting game,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said afterwards. “I liked the way we battled back. It was a huge win, and we’ll take it, but certainly some parts of our game have to get better.”

However the wins come, you take them. That much is obvious.

Winning two straight games is an achievement, no doubt, but it’s a fairly common one. And yet the following stat makes you appreciate a little more what the Panthers have done this week.

Florida starting the season with a 2-0-0 record has only happened five other times in the franchise’s 27-year history.

While having games postponed is surely a situation nobody ever wants to endure, especially when the reasons are health-related, the Panthers will do so while sitting on their tiny yet unblemished record.

“It’s good for the confidence, obviously, but the biggest thing is we won two games,” said Panthers winger Carter Verhaeghe, who scored his first two goals of the season during Tuesday’s win. “We want to put ourselves in a good spot right off the start and I think we did that. We just want to keep the momentum going.”

About the Author:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.