SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Sam Bennett scored the go-ahead goal and Sergei Bobrovsky earned his 300th NHL win as the Florida Panthers remained undefeated with a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
The 4-0-0 start is the best in Panthers history. They had seven points in the standings through the first four games on three other occasions: 1996-97, 1999-2000 and last season. Florida made the playoffs in each of those seasons.
Anton Lundell had a goal and an assist, and Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Reinhart also scored for the Panthers. Mason Marchment added two assists.
Bobrovsky made 30 saves in his milestone victory.
“It definitely means something,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to play with great players, great defensemen, great forwards, great teams, and I appreciate them for this. I’m happy to get the two points tonight. It’s important to have a good start and so far we’re happy where we’re at.”
The Panthers have reeled off wins against Pittsburgh, the New York Islanders, and defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay to start the season.
“We’ve beaten a lot of good teams so far, a really good test for us. We need to keep rolling, not thinking about how good we are,” Aleksander Barkov said. “To see everyone playing well, giving everything they can, that makes us a dangerous team. A winning team. We’re having a lot of fun right now.”
Mikko Rantanan scored and Jonas Johansson stopped 34 shots for Colorado, which dropped its third game in a row.
“You’re not supposed to lose three straight games. We need to find a way to win one,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said.
Bennett’s power-play goal put the Panthers ahead 2-1. Bennett’s shot from the high slot got past Johansson, who was screened on the play, at 9:04 of the second period.
Verhaeghe stretched the lead to 3-1 when he backhanded a loose puck from the high slot into the net with 46.1 seconds left in the second.
Lundell’s empty-net goal with 1:13 left made it 4-1.
“I didn’t like the goals we gave up. A little too easy for them and it cost us,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said.
Reinhart gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead at 14:32 of the first. Marchment passed the puck from behind the net to Reinhart in front and he poked it past Johansson. Reinhart, acquired from Buffalo in July, got his first goal as a member of the Panthers.
Rantanen tied the score at 1 when he swept in a loose puck from in front with 53.9 seconds left in the first.
NOTES: Panthers forward Anthony Duclair played in his 400th NHL game. … This road trip marks Colorado’s first games in the Eastern time zone since March 2020, and Thursday’s game was the team’s first at Florida since Oct. 18, 2019. … Landeskog returned after serving a two-game suspension for an infraction in the season opener. … C Nathan MacKinnon, a finalist for the Hart Trophy and Colorado’s leading scorer last season, returned after missing two games due to COVID-19 protocols. … Florida has a winning record after four games for the 11th time in the franchise’s 28 seasons. … Friday marks the 43rd anniversary of Panthers coach Joel Quenneville’s first NHL game; he played in New York for Toronto against the Rangers on Oct. 22, 1978.
Avalanche: Visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
Panthers: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
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Paul Gereffi , The Associated Press
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