SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Sam Bennett scored two goals and Spencer Knight made 33 saves in his NHL debut to lift the Florida Panthers over the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 on Tuesday night.
Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists, Aleksander Barkov scored his first goal in four games, and Ryan Lomberg also scored a goal for Florida. Anthony Duclair had three assists. The Panthers are 7-0-1 against the Blue Jackets this season.
Knight, out of Boston College and the 13th overall pick in the NHL draft, made his start one day after his 20th birthday.
“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be,” Knight said. “The guys did a good job of just keeping it light and telling me to just go out there and play hockey. That’s what I tried to do. At the end of the day, it’s just hockey.”
Jack Roslovik scored for the Blue Jackets and Joonas Korpisalo stopped 28 shots. The Blue Jackets have given up four or more goals in their last seven games, all losses.
“We did some good things in the first then the floodgates opened in the second and third,” Columbus forward Cam Atkinson said. “We knew it was the goalies first game. We didn’t do enough to get pucks to the net. I know him. I’m happy for him, but we should have made it harder for him.”
Knight is the first Panthers goalie to win in his NHL debut.
“He might have been nervous, but it didn’t show out there,” Huberdeau said. “I think the way he moves the puck, like when he gets out of the net, it’s pretty incredible. Very happy for him to get that first start, first win.”
Bennett’s second goal stretched the Panthers lead to 3-1. Bennett, acquired in a trade with the Calgary Flames on April 12th, has five points in his first three games with the Panthers.
Lomberg and Huberdeau scored goals less than a minute apart late in the second and the Panthers staked their young goalie to a 5-1 lead.
“It’s a 5-1 game but at 2-1 we’re involved in it,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “It’s the offsides, a couple of turnovers, it’s 3-1 and that’s it. We just won’t recover from those turnovers with this hockey club.”
Barkov and Bennett scored 14 seconds apart in the first to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead. Barkov fired a wrist shot from the right circle that got past Korpisalo at 6:52. Bennett followed by batting the puck out of midair and in at 7:06.
Roslovik closed the score to 2-1 on his power-play goal with 3:44 let in the first. Roslovik poked in a loose puck that beat Knight on the stick side.
Anthony Duclair recorded his 100th NHL assist.
Knight is the 77th Boston College player to appear in the NHL.
The Panthers offered a video tribute to Patrick Marleau surpassing Gordie Howe’s record of 1,767 games set in 1980. Marleau, a member of the San Jose Sharks, played game number 1,768 on April 19, 2021 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Roslovik appeared to score a second goal in the closing minute of the first but the Panthers challenged the goal and the Blue Jackets were ruled offside.
The Panthers cap attendance at 25% of capacity. Tuesday’s game drew 4,123.
The Blue Jackets visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
The Panthers host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.