Fox Sports Florida suited Jonathan Huberdeau with a microphone for Saturday night’s game against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.
“Hubie,” as it turns out, was the perfect choice for those audio recordings.
Huberdeau had the game-tying assist with 6:44 remaining and the go-ahead goal with 66 seconds left as his Florida Panthers rallied to defeat Philadelphia 2-1.
Mike Hoffman scored the tying goal when it looked like the Panthers were on their way to being shut out by 20-year-old rookie Carter Hart, playing just his fourth NHL game.
$20 for 365 Days of Unlimited Digital Access
Last chance to take advantage of our best offer of the year! Act now!
But Huberdeau’s impressive vision and awareness allowed him to spot Hoffman across the ice. And — within the blink of an eye — Hoffman was the recipient of a perfect pass from Huberdeau.
“Nice feed!” Hoffman was heard to yell on the FSF microphone. “What a pass!”
What a pass indeed, and what a comeback for the Panthers, who are 5-2-0 since Dec. 15, their best seven-game stretch of the season, tying the same record they had in early November.
The Panthers (16-15-6) have 38 points overall and are seven behind the Montreal Canadiens, who currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Here then are some takeaways regarding Panthers hockey as we approach the halfway point of the season:
▪ 1: “Golden Oldie”: Panthers backup goalie James Reimer is only 30, but he’s a full decade older than Hart, who was overshadowing him for much of Saturday’s game.
Reimer, though, made 34 saves for his second straight win and his best performance since he beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Nov. 11.
He kept the Flyers scoreless for the final 58 minutes of the game, he didn’t give up any juicy rebounds, and he was strong with his glove all night.
“It’s been an up and down season,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said of Reimer, who entered the game with a 3.45 goals-against average which was on track to be the worst mark of his career.
“But it looks like he’s turned it around in the past week or two. He’s got some confidence. He’s moving well in the net. He’s controlling his rebounds, and he’s making saves at big times.”
Reimer’s stellar game came on the same day the Panthers traded away third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Should Reimer or Roberto Luongo get injured the rest of this season, the Panthers would turn to young Samuel Montembeault, 22, who is in his second year in the American Hockey League.
▪ 2: Hometown Hero: Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who is from Pembroke Pines and learned to play hockey as a member of the Florida Junior Panthers program, scored Philadelphia’s only goal.
Gostisbehere, one of just three native Floridians in the NHL and the only one from Broward County, nearly tied the score with a one-timer blast from the left circle. But Reimer stuck out his right leg to deflect the puck into the stands with just 1.1 seconds left in the game, preserving Florida’s win.
Still, in 10 career games against the Panthers, Gostisbehere has three goals and four assists.
▪ 3: Potent Power Play: Hoffman’s goal came on a power play, making it seven straight games the Panthers have scored with the man advantage.
In the first period, however, the Panthers were on the power play for more than three consecutive minutes (3:20) and yet did not score, including a 5-on-3 advantage for 40 seconds.
The Panthers got just one shot on goal during that span, and Hoffman missed the net twice from the right circle during the 5-on-3. Hoffman, though, atoned in the third period.