Panthers rally to defeat Penguins in OT in season opener

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Carter Verhaeghe scored his second goal 1:37 into overtime, and the Florida Panthers rallied to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida, on Thursday.

After Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped Evan Rodrigues on a breakaway at 1:29, Verhaeghe scored to the glove side from the left face-off circle.

Aaron Ekblad scored twice in the third period, and Bobrovsky made 43 saves for the Panthers, who overcame nine penalties to win their season opener.

Jeff Carter scored his 400th NHL goal, Jake Guentzel scored in his 300th NHL game, and Casey DeSmith made 34 saves for the Penguins, who won one of two their first two games without centers Sidney Crosby (wrist) and Evgeni Malkin (knee).

Ekblad scored goals 1:38 apart after Rodrigues gave the Penguins a 4-2 lead at 8:31 of the third. Ekblad shot into an open net with DeSmith impeded by a scrum in the crease, cutting it to 4-3 at 13:29, before sending a backhand off the crossbar and in to tie it 4-4 at 15:07.

Verhaeghe put the Panthers ahead 1-0 at 9:17 of the first period when he sent a wrist shot from above the right face-off circle through traffic.

Anthony Duclair made it 2-0 on a partial breakaway at 3:57 of the second period. DeSmith poked the puck away from Duclair and in off Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman.

Danton Heinen‘s power-play goal cut it to 2-1 at 11:45.

Carter tied it 2-2 when his shot went off Ekblad’s stick and in on a power play with 1:02 remaining in the second. He is the 101st player in NHL history, and seventh active, to reach 400 goals.

Guentzel put the Penguins ahead 3-2 at 8:01 of the third after taking a wrist shot that caused Bobrovsky to drift from the crease. Guentzel got his own rebound below the goal line and banked a shot off Florida defenseman MacKenzie Weegar in the crease. The forward missed the Penguins’ 6-2 season-opening win at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday because of the NHL COVID-19 protocol.

Pittsburgh forward Bryan Rust left after taking a hit from Weegar in the opening minute of the third period.

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