COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Florida Panthers played just their third game of the season Tuesday, but the team has made the most of its limited opportunities.
Florida improved to 3-0-0 for the first time in the franchise’s 27-year history with Tuesday’s comeback victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Offseason trade acquisition Patric Hornqvist continued his hot start for the Panthers. The man they call Horny tied the game with less than three seconds left before going on to score the winning goal on Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo in the shootout.
“This was a huge win for us,” Hornqvist said postgame. “Over the 65 minutes we played really good hockey, and when you keep doing that for that long, it’s going to get rewarded.”
Hornqvist is tied with fellow newcomer Carter Verhaeghe for the team lead in points, with each logging five in three games.
Both have scored in consecutive games for Florida, which already has received goals from eight different players this season. Hornqvist (4) and Verhaeghe (3) are the only ones with multiple goals so far.
“It’s always fun to score big goals and help the team win,” Hornqvist said. “That’s my job, and I will try to help this team to win every single time I’m on the ice.”
Hornqvist is the first player in franchise history to score a goal in each of the team’s first three games of the season. To say he’s making a strong impression on his new teammates would be an understatement.
“He’s been huge for us so far, and will be huge for us the whole season,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said of Hornqvist.
Speaking of Barkov, he also scored Tuesday for Florida while firing a staggering eight shots on goal.
Barkov, centering a line of Verhaeghe and Anthony Duclair, has points in all three games this season (1-3-4).
“We’ve just got to work hard and play our own game, not get too satisfied yet,” Barkov said. “We had good looks on the power play and the penalty kill was huge for us.”
Florida and Columbus will battle again on Thursday as the Panthers continue their first road trip of the young season.
Wednesday will be a practice day for the Cats, but not before taking the night to enjoy the win.
“We’re gonna go back to the hotel and have a beer…and maybe one more,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said after the game. “We’ll have some food and relax, and then tomorrow we’ll review the game and have practice.”