The Florida Panthers’ record winning streak continues, but their Stanley Cup-winning coach now faces major questions about his future.
Answers could come tomorrow when Joel Quenneville meets with Gary Bettman in New York about his involvement in the Chicago Blackhawks’ mishandling of a 2010 sexual assault allegation against a former Blackhawks video coach.
In the meantime, Quenneville was still on the bench Wednesday to lead the Panthers to a 4-1, come-from-behind win against the Boston Bruins in Sunrise, even after former Chicago left wing Kyle Beach, the previously unnamed accuser, asserted Quenneville knew about his allegation against Brad Aldrich. Florida’s season-opening seven-game winning streak is the longest in franchise history — the previous record to start a season was four, set last year — and tied for the seventh longest season-opening streak in NHL history. They’re only the 14th team in NHL history to start the season with seven straight wins and five of the seven wins have come against teams with top-10 Stanley Cup betting odds, including the Bruins.
The Panthers (7-0-0) are now only three wins away from matching the NHL record of 10, shared by the 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs and 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres.
Florida fell behind early at FLA Live Arena before its third line led a comeback, even with rookie center Anton Lundell sidelined by an unspecified injury. Left wing Mason Marchment tied the game 1-1 off an assist from forward Sam Reinhart with 5:44 left in the first period, then center Eetu Luostarinen, filling in for Lundell, scored the go-ahead goal off another assist from Reinart with 17:54 left in the second. In the third, winger Anthony Duclair gave the Panthers a two-goal cushion when he corralled a long pass from star defenseman Aaron Ekblad, sped to the net and dangled his way past Boston goaltender Linus Ullmark for a 3-1 lead.
After a rocky start, it was another complete effort for first-place Florida. The Bruins (3-2-0) opened the game with a 12-2 edge in shots on goal, but only scored in the first period when a centering pass by Boston forward Charlie Coyle from behind the net deflected off right wing Owen Tippett’s stick and into the goal. Otherwise, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky shut out Boston, making 28 saves to keep the Panthers unbeaten.