ANAHEIM – Spencer Knight made 17 saves for his first NHL shutout and the Florida Panthers defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-0 at the Honda Center last Friday.
“It’s nice to get, I guess, but at the same time I’m just happy to win,” Knight said of his first shutout in his 22nd NHL start. “There are so many times where I have had fantastic matches and given up five goals.”
Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals for the Panthers (42-14-6), which came after a 5-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday that ended a streak of seven points (6-0-1).
John Gibson made 39 saves for the Ducks (27-26-11), who have lost six in a row (0-4-2).
“I saw a team getting ready to challenge for the Stanley Cup, and one trying to be one,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “Obviously, there’s a big gap right now.”
Knight, who started for the second night in a row due to Sergei Bobrovsky was ill, met four shots on goal in the first period while the Ducks gave up 19.
Video: FLA @ ANA: Knight gets first career suspension
Huberdeau gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with a powerplay goal 13:54 in the first period. He scored on a one-timer from the right circle from a feed from behind the net from Sam Reinhart.
“We knew they had a good powerplay and obviously they did one,” Ducks forward Nicolas Deslauriers sa. – We shot ourselves in the foot again.
Huberdeau made it 2-0 with seven seconds left in the period when he scored from almost the same spot on a one-time maneuver from a feed from Alexander Barkov.
“We knew we had to come back harder,” Huberdeau said of the second game in two nights. “I thought we were a little slow in Vegas and not playing our game.”
Ducks Max Comtois missed a wide open network of feed from Derek Grant at 2:53 of the second period, and Joe Thornton scored 51 seconds later to extend Florida’s lead to 3-0.
The Ducks were without a veteran striker Jakob Silfverberg (upper body injury), Rickard Rakell (upper body), and Ryan Getzlaf (lower body).
“With where we are right now, everyone in our team lineup must play 100 percent, especially against such a team,” said Eakins. “This is a huge, massive challenge, especially when you play by far the best team in the league.”
Video: FLA @ ANA: Huberdeau walks from the glove side of the circle
Florida Defender Aaron Ekblad left the match after sustaining a lower body injury when he collided with Barkov in the corner of the Anaheim zone 1:05 into the match.
Oak leaves crawled against his bench before getting help on his feet and then to the locker room.
Florida coach Andrew Brunette said after the game that Ekland may have avoided a major injury, but a further evaluation would take place on Saturday.
“We are very hopeful,” said Brunette. “It’s much better than we thought it would be.”
Ekblad, number 1 in the NHL draft in 2014, is fifth among NHL defenders with 57 points (15 goals, 42 points).
He had three assists in the loss to Vegas to surpass Robert Svehla for the most points by a defender in Panthers history (291).
Ekblad, 26, broke his left leg against the Dallas Stars and missed the last 21 games in the regular season last season and the loss of the Stanley Cup playoffs in the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s not last year,” Brunette said. “He’s gonna be okay.”
NOTES: For the first time in NHL history, a player 40 or older scored a goal (Thornton), and a goalkeeper 20 years or younger (Knight) was shut out in the same game. … Huberdeau (189 goals) passed Olli Jokinen as second on the Panthers’ career goal list. (189). Barkov is first with 207. … Florida’s defender Radko Gudas had nine hits to give him 275 and broke the Panthers record for a season previously held by Derek MacKenzie (273, 2014-15). … Florida forward Patric Hornqvist missed the match after sustaining an unknown injury against Vegas on Thursday. The Panthers started the match with 11 forwards and a seventh defender, Lucas Carlsson, who played 13:37 in Ekblad’s absence. … Ducks defender Hampus Lindholm was held out by the Ducks due to asset management. Anaheim can trade with the 28-year-old before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline on March 21 (15:00 ET). He is in the final season of a six-year contract and could become an unlimited free agent after the season. … Appears Sam Steel returned after missing two games after being hit in the face by a puck and played 11:21.