Huberdeau’s big night leads first place Panthers past Carolina in overtime

Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers prepares to take a shot during the shootout in the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on January 28, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (2021 Getty Images)

RALEIGH, N.C. – It’s Jonathan Huberdeau’s world and we’re all just living in it.

Well, at least for this night.

Huberdeau scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Florida Panthers came from behind to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 Wednesday in Raleigh.

The win vaulted Florida (10-2-2) into sole possession of first place in the Central Division, one point ahead of idle Tampa Bay and Carolina.

“Really good start to our season,” Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville said afterwards. “A lot of good things have happened here. I thought across the board tonight, sticking with it down 2-0 when it looked like it completely got away from us late in the first [period], we hung in there and chipped our way back into the game.”

Believe it or not, it wasn’t Huberdeau’s goals, his sixth and seventh of the season, that were the big topic of discussion once the game was over.

The playmaking specialist known for his passing capabilities dished out perhaps the slickest dime of his NHL career.

Huby’s spinning, no-look pass to linemate Alex Wennberg for the goal that tied the game at two early in the third period had jaws universally hitting the floor as the highlight quickly spread across social media.

“It just had to be at the right moment,” Huberdeau said of the pass. “I saw [Wennberg] coming in, and I’ve done a little spin-o-rama before, and it just hit his tape, so I was fortunate.”

Said Quenneville: “[Huberdeau] had a special night tonight. A couple of highlight films - you look at that play he made on that spin-o-rama over to [Wennberg] for a tap-in - and finish it off on a nice play on a breakaway.

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen something that special.”

Huberdeau leads the Panthers in scoring with 20 points (7-13-20) though the team’s first 14 games this season.

That puts him on pace for 80 points this season (56 games) or 117 points over a traditional 82-game schedule.

Either way, that kind of production has never been touched by someone in a Panthers sweater.

Truly, it’s a whole new level Huberdeau is threatening to reach.

And the Panthers, too.


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