On Saturday the Florida Panthers opened the 2013 NHL season with a dominating victory over the improved Carolina Hurricanes. To open the festivities Florida unveiled its 2011-2012 South East Division Champion banner in front of a sellout crowd of 19,688 (4thlargest in the NHL on Saturday night) along with a “7th man” banner, dedicated to the fans. Florida would get off to a fast start in the game scoring a little over 3 minutes into the game off a goal by rookie Jonathan Huberdeau.
They would go on to add 3 more in the period and another early in the second period to take a 5-0 lead in the game. Jose Theodore’s shutout was snapped after a goal on a delayed penalty but he stood tall in the game stopping 41 of 42 shots overall. After the game fans could meet outside of the arena to get autographs and pictures with the players, each time one exited the building the fans would go crazy. Overall the players and organization really seemed to step it up, for this game at least, in interacting with the fans on a more personal level. Not often you see players come out, still in partial gear not even showered pumping their arms getting the crowd cheering just after playing a full game.
The Panthers will take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on the road and look to continue with their fast start, not only did rookie Huberdeau get his first goal he was also named first star of the game with 2 assists as well. Newcomer Alexei Kovalev will be up against his former team tonight, after recording 1 goal 2 assists in the season opener as well. Filip Kuba who was signed by Florida during free agency will be skating against his former club and Craig Anderson, Florida’s backup for 3 seasons will matchup against his former team.