PREVIEW: Panthers host Hurricanes for preseason matchup in Sunrise

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers will take the ice for the first time at home in 2022-23 when they host the Carolina Hurricanes for a preseason tilt at FLA Live Arena on Thursday.

With all proceeds benefitting youth hockey in South Florida, tickets for the game are just $15 and can be purchased by clicking HERE.

“The guys are excited,” said forward Nick Cousins, who is preparing for his first season with the Panthers. “It’s been a long time coming with camp and a long summer. I think the guys are excited to get back into the swing of things and a routine. It should be nice to play at home.”

The Panthers kicked off their preseason on Monday with a doubleheader on the road against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. In Game 1, captain Alexander Barkov scored with less than a second left in overtime to lift the Panthers to a 4-3 win. In Game 2, Spencer Knightwho signed a three-year contract extension on Tuesday, stopped 19 of 20 shots in a 4-0 defeat.

Over the course of those two games in the Music City, several offseason additions made their debuts with the Panthers, including Matthew Tkachuk, Colin WhiteCousins, Rudolfs Balcers and Marc Staal. Additionally, it was the first game behind the bench for the new Panthers head coach Paul Maurice.

“I think it’s good just to get chemistry with new guys,” forward Carter Verhaeghe said when asked about the preseason. “We have a couple new guys this year. Just building the chemistry, getting the power play and penalty kill going, and just putting our systems in place are the biggest things. But if we can win, we want to win. Once we get out there, things get competitive.”

Also getting off to a good start in the preseason, the Hurricanes opened their exhibition slate with a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena on Tuesday. In the win, Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and an assist while Frederik Andersen stopped 20 of 21 shots in the net.

During the 2021-22 regular season, Florida went a perfect 3-0-0 against Carolina.

“Coming into games, we’re definitely in shape and ready to go,” Verhaeghe said. “I think it’s just building our puck touches and our timing right now. That’s the biggest thing for us right now. … It’s going to be exciting to be back in our building in front of our fans. Excited to have some fun.”

Starting to turn their attention to special teams as the preseason rolls along, the Panthers showcased two new power-play units during this morning’s skate, including a dangerous looking top unit featuring Barkov, Tkachuk, Sam Reinhart, Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad.

In 2021-22, Florida ranked fifth in the NHL with a 24.4% success rate on the man advantage.

“We didn’t even touch it in the Nashville games,” Maurice said when asked about the power play. “That’s their first walkthrough of it. That’s kind of how the lines got structured for today. We wanted to make sure we had at least one power-play unit. We’ll build the lineups more [the rest of the way] to make sure that we have a special teams unit with guys that we think we’re going to have each night.”

With experimentation always being a primary theme during the preseason, the Panthers will also try a new look on their top line against the Hurricanes. After finishing sixth in Calder Trophy voting last season, Anton Lundell is expected to saddle up alongside Verhaeghe and Barkov on Line 1.

“It’s going to be fun,” Verhaeghe said of playing with Lundell, who chipped in 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) from the third line during his rookie campaign with the Panthers in 2021-22. “It’s a new position for him, but it’s not much different. He’s an awesome player and very skilled.”

For more lineup information, check @JamesonCoop on Twitter closer to puck drop.

PANTHERS ROSTER

Forwards: Sam BennettEric Staal, Sam Reinhart, Anton Lundell, Aleksander Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksi Heponiemi, Nick CousinsCarter Verhaeghe, Eetu LuostarinenRudolfs Balcers, Chris Tierney, Anton Levtchi.

Defensemen: Matt Kiersted, Michael Del ZottoAaron Ekblad, Gustav ForslingBrandon Montour, Max Gildon

Goaltenders: Sergei Bobrovsky, Alex Lyon

HURRICANES ROSTER

Forwards: Jack Drury, Ryan Dzingel, Derek Stepan, Stefan Noesen, Mackenzie MacEachern, Noel Gunler, Justin Robidas, Jordan Martinook, Joseph LaBate, Ondrej Kase, Jamieson Rees, Vasily Ponomarev

Defensemen: Calvin de Haan, Jalen Chatfield, Dylan Coghlan, Ethan Bear, Maxime Lajoie, Grigorii Dronov

Goaltenders: Antti Raanta, Zach Sawchenko

THEY SAID IT

“There’s a whole feeling of building, feeling of a rink, that you get at the bench level. I’ve been here over the years and been in the building when it’s been pretty loud. There’s been some pretty dominant teams, and certainly now there are excited fans.” – head coach Paul Maurice on coaching his first game with the Panthers at FLA Live Arena.

“The power play is going to be interesting because we have a lot of good players that can play it and finding the right mix is ​​going to be [a challenge]. It’ll always be evolving, but we have a lot of good options.” – Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour on the team’s power-play approach.

HOW TO WATCH

When: Thursday, Sept. 29 at 7 pm ET

Where: FLA Live Arena – Sunrise, FL

Stream: HERE

Radio: N/A

Tickets: HERE

FOR A GOOD CAUSE

A portion of the proceeds from tonight’s 50/50 Raffle will benefit Hurricane Ian relief efforts across the state of Florida.

Tickets are available for purchase at the game or online now at FloridaPanthers.com/5050Raffle.

The Florida Panthers will celebrate their 2022-23 Home Opener at FLA Live Arena against the Philadelphia Flyers on October 19, 2022. The first 10,000 fans through the doors will receive a commemorative magnet schedule courtesy of Bally Sports Florida. Click HERE to buy your tickets today!

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