MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It was another cardiac cat moment, but in the end, the Panthers found a way to beat the Nashville Predators with a come-from-behind 7 to 4 victory and in the process clinch a playoff berth.
“It’s unbelievable the whole season has been very different for us, for all of us. Not just hockey players, but everyone on this planet. Everyone’s been going through tough times but I think the league and in this organization has done a really good job,” said center, Aleksander Barkov.READ MORE: Miami Beach Commissioners Pass Resolution Cutting Back Last Call On South Beach
“It’s just a fun year and when you win it makes it so much more fun. I like the guys, every guy in the room. We come out to the rink we have fun, we know when to have fun and we know when to get serious.
The Panthers have only made the playoffs 7 times in their history but this trip feels different,” said Forward, Jonathan Huberdeau.
Finally, with Huberdeau and Barkov at the helm, this team is set up for sustained success, thanks to new additions.
The Panthers’ mainstays Barkov, Huberdeau, Ekblad, Weegar are under contract and a lot of the new players they brought in. These aren’t guys that are over the hill, that have one year left. Carter Verhaeghe has signed, Anthony Duclair is a restricted free agent. Same thing with Sam Bennett.READ MORE: CBS4 News Goes Inside The BSO K-9 Unit
Also, deserving credit is the front office. New GM Bill Zito’s in-season moves have helped the Panthers get over the hump.
“He brought in some great additions. He’s really gelled well with obviously a hall of fame coach, so he was really the final piece, I think to this transformation and probably the most important,” said Florida Panthers President and CEO, Matthew Caldwell.
For fans, the fun is about to kick into high gear with capacity expanding to 50 percent inside the BB and T Center for the post-season.MORE NEWS: Miami Beach Honors First Responder 'Heroes' For Going Above And Beyond
“We will continue to work with the league to try and increase when appropriate. We have to be safe. We can’t take our foot off the gas on operating at a very conscientious manner, but we want to just get this place packed again. It’ll be 20,000 in no time,” said Caldwell.