After a 4-day break following a split of a doubleheader to open the preseason against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, the Panthers visited the Lightning for their third game on Tuesday.
It didn’t take long for the line combination of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, and Evgenii Dadonov – which previously existed only on paper and in contrived practice drills – to make a mark on the scoresheet.
Dadonov, signed as a free-agent out of the KHL in July and playing in his second game of the preseason, wired home a one-timer from the low slot on a feed from Huberdeau.
Barkov factored into the goal as well, recovering a loose puck inside the offensive zone blue line and sent and 60-foot pass to Huberdeau at the side of the net.
It was the second of three blemishes on the night for Lighting goaltender Peter Budaj, and it came just 32 seconds after forward Alexander Volkov scored his first of two goals in the game.
“He’s not a bad player,” Huberdeau joked about Dadonov on Thursday after a practice at the Ice Den in Coral Springs. “He’s really quick and has a really good shot too.”
Newly-acquired Jamie McGinn, wearing number 88, opened the scoring for the Panthers by deflected an Ian McCoshen point shot past Budaj in the 1st period.
“I thought he was really solid,” said Boughner of McGinn. “He contributed with a goal but you could tell his net presence. It’s one of the things we needed and he definitely provides that.”
“It’s been a long summer, so it’s good to get back out there in game action,” said McGinn, who suited up for his first game as a Panther since being traded from Arizona last week. “You just try to get the legs under you and the brain working […] at game speed, so it’s good to get that one out of the way and get a win in the preseason.”
The Panthers killed of six of their eight penalties in the game in the 1st period en route to a perfect night on the penalty kill.
Radim Vrbata, also acquired by the Panthers through free-agency during the off-season, rifled a puck top shelf from the left circle on the power play early in the 3rd period to go ahead 3-2.
“Obviously it was not the 1st period we wanted,” said Vrbata. “We spent the whole 1st period in the box so all of our PK guys and [Reimer] did a great job the whole game. Once we started playing 5-on-5 I think we took over.”
Huberdeau made it a 2-point night for himself as he added an empty netter on a shot from his own zone with 1:05 remaining.
The Panthers finished with one marker on 5 power play opportunities and overcame a 4-shot 1st period to finish with a total of 28 on the night. James Reimer turned aside 27 of 29 shots in a full game of action in his second appearance of the preseason.
“There were different scenarios and plays that happened so you could get ready, make sure you’re sharp for the season,” said Reimer.
The Panthers will return to the BB&T Center to play their first home game of the preseason against the same Lightning on Tuesday night before making it three meetings in a row on Thursday.