The Florida Panthers didn’t let the actions of their former coach take away from their focus on the ice.
One game after Joel Quenneville’s abrupt resignation, the Panthers pulled out a 3-2 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday to become the seventh team in NHL history to record eight straight wins to begin a season.
Now the Panthers will attempt to become the fourth team ever to win nine straight out of the gate as they visit the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
Quenneville stepped down as Florida’s coach on Thursday night following a Chicago Blackhawks investigation into the alleged sexual assault of former prospect Kyle Beach during the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup run.
Quenneville, who was then Chicago’s head coach, said Thursday in a statement that “my former team the Blackhawks failed Kyle and I own my share of that.”
Less than 24 hours later, assistant coach Andrew Brunette assumed Quenneville’s post on an interim basis and earned his first NHL win courtesy of Aleksander Barkov’s goal 3:29 into overtime at Detroit.
“For the difficult circumstances of the past few days, just really proud of the guys,” said Brunette, adding, “It’s been a grind.”
Barkov and Eetu Luostarinen each scored first-period goals against Detroit before Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky gave up a goal in the second and another in the third to force overtime.
“It’s definitely a big win for us,” said Bobrovsky, who made 28 saves. “Every game is a big game, and every win brings the happy feeling and great emotions into the locker room.”
Only the Toronto Maple Leafs (10-0-0 in 1993-94), the Buffalo Sabres (10-0-0 in 2006-07) and the Montreal Canadiens (9-0-0 in 2015-16) have opened an NHL season with at least nine consecutive wins.
Boston is still trying to find its footing to start the new season, having dropped three of its past five. One of those losses was a 4-1 setback against the Panthers on Wednesday in Sunrise, Fla.
Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark gave up three goals on 26 shots in just his third start with the team. He won the previous two outings.
Luostarinen’s first goal of the year at 2:06 of the second period Wednesday held up as the winner on a night when Bobrovsky made 30 saves — stopping all but Charlie Coyle’s first-period goal for Boston. Mason Marchment, Anthony Duclair and Owen Tippett also scored for the Panthers.
On Thursday, the Bruins did not fare any better in a 3-0 road loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman stopped 21 of 23 shots on a night when Boston’s offense was stonewalled despite outshooting the hosts 33-24.
“They’re both very good teams,” Bruins left wing Brad Marchand said of the Hurricanes and Panthers, the NHL’s only two unbeaten clubs. “I think we can play with both of them. … We just didn’t capitalize on our chances, and they got a couple lucky bounces that turned the tide.”
Goaltending also remains a question mark for the Bruins in the post-Tuukka Rask era.
Ullmark has allowed three goals in back-to-back starts while posting a save percentage of .885. Meanwhile, Swayman surrendered five goals in a 5-0 defeat against the Philadelphia Flyers in his last start prior to Thursday.
“I think maybe a couple bounces in the net for us and I think it’s a different game,” Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy said. “It’s early and there’s so much to build on.”
–Field Level Media