Panthers knock off Hurricanes in OT

Published 11:17 pm Wednesday, February 16, 2022

By Aaron Beard

AP Sports Writer

RALEIGH — Sam Reinhart scored in the final minute of regulation to force overtime, then Aaron Ekblad got free for a breakway goal just 16 seconds into overtime to give the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.

It was an abrupt turnaround in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams in terms of points percentage, as well as marking the Panthers’ first game in more than two weeks due to the All-Star break.

Florida’s Aleksander Barkov also scored a highlight-reel goal in the second period for Florida, which had notched a franchise-record 12 wins in January along with scoring 74 goals for the highest single-month output by any NHL team in more than 26 years.

Things didn’t come nearly as easily in a chippy and physical matchup, but the Panthers pounced when they had their opportunity against Carolina’s Frederik Andersen.

Reinhart struck first by chasing down a loose puck along the left side and zipping the puck past Andersen as he tried to recover to the post at 19:11 of the third after the Panthers had pulled Sergei Bobrovsky for the extra attacker.

Ekblad’s goal came as NHL assists leader Jonathan Huberdeau zipped a perfect stretch pass from deep in Florida’s own end to find him near center ice.