FLORIDA PANTHERSAfter taking care of business in a two-game set against the reeling Columbus Blue Jackets early in the week, our new parent club split its two-game series against our old parent club as those two teams, along with Tampa Bay, continue to jockey for first in the Central Division.
Including Thursday’s matchup, the Panthers had dropped six consecutive games to Carolina heading into their final regular-season meeting on Saturday. It looked as though it would be seven games until former Checker Gustav Forsling scored the first of three consecutive Panthers goals that culminated in an overtime winner by Aleksander Barkov.
The result of the recent infighting is that the Central race is as close as ever, with the big three separated by just two points. Carolina has the upper hand in both points and points percentage – an important distinction as the first-place club will avoid a grueling 2/3 matchup in the first round of the playoffs that begin next month.
Florida, which has just seven games remaining, will face off against teams battling for the division’s No. 4 seed this week as they play Nashville and Chicago twice each.
Huby is serving ? them ? UP tonight! pic.twitter.com/zTif5yLGI5— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) April 25, 2021
SYRACUSE CRUNCHIt’s been an excellent stretch for the group of Panthers prospects in Syracuse as their 7-1 victory over Utica on Sunday marked their fifth straight victory. They’ve jumped up to third in the North Division at 15-8-1.
Lucas Carlsson, the defensive prospect that Florida acquired from Chicago along with Lucas Wallmark at the trade deadline, had a huge week with two goals, four assists and a plus-6 rating in four games. Also on defense, former Checker Chase Priskie returned to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 20 and picked up an assist on Sunday.
More like Lucas Clappersson ? pic.twitter.com/uwX7BLM1WV— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) April 25, 2021
GREENVILLE SWAMP RABBITSOur ECHL affiliate continued to pick up important points as the Swamp Rabbits went 2-0-1 in a three-game set against South Carolina – one of the teams on their heels in the playoff race. At 25-10-3 on the season, they remain in third and are nine points clear of the cutoff line, though fifth-place Jacksonville – who they will play their next four games against - does hold four games in hand.
Goaltender Ryan Bednard finished the week at 1-0-1, stopping 46 of 51 shots to improve his goals-against average to 2.45, good for third in the league, and even chipped in an assist on Sunday. Fellow Panthers prospect Patrick Bajkov had a goal and an assist on Friday, finishing a stretch of 14 points in 13 games.
IN OTHER NEWS
- Top goalie prospect Spencer Knight had an excellent NHL debut for the Panthers on Tuesday, stopping 33 shots in a 5-1 win over Columbus. He may not play again this season as the Panthers roll with Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger, but so far he looks the part.
First of many. ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/EOVElxAdds— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) April 21, 2021
- 2019 Cup champ Dustin Tokarski earned the NHL’s First Star of the Week for the period ending April 18 after going 2-1-1 with a .934 save percentage for the Buffalo Sabres.
Goaltender Dustin Tokarski and RN Michaela Pastorius from @RoswellPark have been named the @NHL’s First Stars of the Week!— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 19, 2021
⭐️ Congrats to Dustin and Michaela! ⭐️
More info: https://t.co/61RluWnMQS pic.twitter.com/CtIz2yqYIw
- Alex Nedeljkovic has made three straight starts for the Hurricanes with Petr Mrazek injured again. He continues to make the most of every opportunity and now ranks fourth in the league with a 1.98 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
- Former Checkers teammates connected for Carolina on Tuesday as Steven Lorentz got his second of the season on a feed from Morgan Geekie.
Steven Szn pic.twitter.com/hsWmdgA7jc— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) April 21, 2021
- Martin Necas had three assists against the Panthers on Thursday and he and Sebastian Aho have found excellent chemistry together.
Rumor has it this has already been reported for abuse pic.twitter.com/hSwwvmRUFi— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) April 23, 2021
- It was a big week for Zac Dalpe, who scored his second goal of the season on Monday and announced the arrival of his third child on Thursday.
- In the European playoffs, Oliwer Kaski’s Avangard team is tied 2-2 in the final round, while Aleksi Saarela’s Lukko are in the semis.