The Panthers home opener for the 22-23 season was a roaring success, the building packed to the brim with fans eager to watch their beloved Cats play. The energy in the nearly sold-out arena was electric, and the Panthers seemed to thrive back at home. There were quite a few fans (myself included) who were vastly underwhelmed by the opening sequence, but that’s not why we were there. We were there to see a game, and in that respect, the Panthers delivered.
The first period started with a bang, with Carter Verhaeghe opening the scoring. The Flyers quickly answered back with a goal of their own, but the play was offsides, disallowing the goal. Verhaeghe struck again, absolutely igniting the crowd. As the first period drew to a close the Flyers managed to get on the board with a goal from Seelers, to the delight of the Flyers fans scattered in the crowd.
The second period was relatively uneventful as far as scoring, though the Panthers had to kill of several penalties practically back-to-back. Van Reimsdyk finally was able to capitalize on one for the Flyers, tying the game at 2. There was no shortage of hot tempers and quick scrums around the net, with Tkachuk being involved in most of them. He definitely brings a fire the Panthers were sorely missing last season.
The third period was so-or-die for the Cats, and wow did they deliver. They seemed to feed off the fans energy, and two more goals from new acquisitions Rudolfs Balcers and Josh Mahura brought the score to 4-2. The Flyers pulled Sandstrom from goal with 4 minutes left to play, pressing on with the extra attacker in an attempt to bring the game to a tie. The last 10 seconds of the game arrived and the fans began to count down to victory. The countdown was cut short with 1.9 seconds left on the clock, when Konecny snuck one past Bobrovsky, though it wasn’t enough. The game ended 4-3, with the Cats on top.
This win marks the 4th consecutive home-opener victory for the Panthers, tying a franchise record. We’ll have to wait till next season to see if they can break it.
The Panthers play again on Friday October 21 at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.