RALEIGH (AP) — Connor Brickley thought he might have been robbed of his first NHL goal in the second period. He and his Florida teammates made up for it in the third.
Brickley broke a tie with 7:42 left, and Alexsander Barkov made it a two-goal lead 50 seconds later in the Panthers’ 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
Brickley appeared to score on a rush — greeted by the flashing lamp and stony silence in the building — late in the second with the score tied at 1. But the Hurricanes were whistled for too many men on the ice, killing the play and making Brickley wait almost a full period to earn his souvenir puck.
“(The goal) was great — the kid worked hard and he battles hard and that’s how he goes,” Florida coach Gerard Gallant said. “He goes hard to the net. That’s how he scores his goals. Al (Montoya) was excellent. He was really sharp for his first game of the year.”
Brickley said he took the earlier disappointment in stride and just pressed on.
“I thought I got it a little bit earlier but something happened,” Brickley said. “Kuli (Dmitry Kulikov) made a good play putting the puck on net, and luckily I went hard and got a bounce and a rebound and buried it home. It was another hard-fought game. We just wanted to come out in the third, get pucks deep and play fast hockey. Fortunately we got a good bounce.”
Nick Bjugstad opened the scoring in the first period, former Hurricanes forward Jussi Jokinen added an empty-net goal with 1:47 left, and Montoya made 25 saves in his first start of the season to help Florida improve to 2-1-0. Jaromir Jagr assisted on Barkov’s goal for his 1,809th career point.
Elias Lindholm scored for Carolina in the second period, and Eddie Lack made 22 saves in his first start of the season. The Hurricanes dropped to 0-3-0.
“(The Panthers) worked harder, they were more desperate, they were hungrier and they played harder for sure,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “I didn’t see that coming, especially this early in the year. I don’t know where that came from. We were obviously not ready and not mentally sharp.”
Bjugstad, who led Florida with 24 goals last season, scored his second of the season by beating Lack high to the glove side at 2:01 of the first period.
Carolina’s Lindholm finally woke up the sleepy building midway through the second, taking Brad Malone’s pass just inside the circle and scooping the puck over Montoya’s right shoulder.
Brickley scored at 12:18, and Barkov followed with help from Jagr.
“The team came out and played well,” Montoya said. “I made some saves and then we scored some goals. It was a good all-around game. Any time your team gets four goals it’s a great night.”
NOTES: The Hurricanes will play Friday night at Detroit, which ruined Carolina’s home opener 4-3 on Saturday night. It’s the opener of a seven-game trip that Carolina takes every October to avoid the traffic congestion of the N.C. State Fair next door. … Florida hosts Buffalo on Thursday night. … C Riley Nash (shoulder) sat out for Carolina. LW Sean Thornton, D Steven Kampfer and D Dylan Olsen were healthy scratches for Florida. … The attendance of 10,901 was Carolina’s lowest since a crowd of 9,781 on Jan. 8 against Buffalo. … The Panthers and Hurricanes will meet three times this season, with the next matchup in Raleigh on Dec. 18 before they meet in the season finale for both April 9 at Florida. … Jokinen played all or part of five seasons from 2008-13 for Carolina.
The Panthers face the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, October 15th at 7:30 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
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