Driedger gets third shutout as Panthers beat Lightning 4-0
Chris Driedger stopped 30 shots to record his third shutout of the season, Juho Lammikko scored a short-handed goal, and the Florida Panthers secured home-ice advantage for the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the regular season finale for both clubs.
Florida Panthers off to 2nd-best start in franchise history
Florida’s 6-1-2 start through nine games is the second-best in franchise history, topped only by the 6-0-3 record to open the 1996-97 season. “We've been consistent in most games," Florida coach Joel Quenneville said. Starting poorly, however, has pretty much snuffed out some Panthers seasons before they even started. The five Florida teams that went to the playoffs — 1995-96, 1996-97, 1999-2000, 2011-12 and 2015-16 — averaged 12 standings points through the season’s first nine games. There’s obviously a long way to go, but the Panthers finally have the start they wanted.
Lightning Effect: Skilled NHL teams add grit to go for Cup
Rewind to 2019 and early 2020 and that description fits the Tampa Bay Lightning, who added some grit and toughness to their talented core and went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Lightning effect was clear as soon as NHL free agency opened. “You need guys that are going to have a little bit of sandpaper. “We maybe have taken a little bit of a step back from the most skillful lineup we’ve ever had to more of a balance between the will and the skill," Poile said. We certainly have a little bit more physicality, a little bit more grit and I think it’s probably and hopefully a better mix than we had last year.”___More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
NHL teams making moves, not waiting for top free agents
A handful of the top free agents are still available, but NHL teams aren't waiting for those big fish to sign to make other moves. Koivu signed for $1.5 million for next season, and they need to re-up top center Pierre-Luc Dubois and other restricted free agents. Teams have to move money, and in order to move money, they might have to move some really good players.”Some good free agents found new homes Saturday. The Buffalo Sabres signed center Cody Eakin to a $4.5 million, two-year contract, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal. Buffalo later Saturday signed defenseman Brandon Montour to a $3.85 million, one-year deal.