Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 1/20/13
SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers opened their season with a subdued banner raising. They waited until the puck dropped to set off the fireworks. Florida began its defense of the Southeast Division title Saturday night, unleashing its revamped second line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Peter Mueller and Alex Kovalev on the unassuming Carolina Hurricanes. The trio combined for two goals and five assists in the Panthers' 5-1 win. Following his team's morning skate, Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said he felt more prepared for the Panthers' game plan this season. High-tempo. Up-and-down. Run-and-gun. "They gave us a little trouble last year because of the style they play," Muller said. "We know them better now." At least he thought they did. Enter's the Panthers' second line. Or perhaps now, its first. The Panthers, who ranked 27th in offense last season with just 197 goals, built a 5-0 lead 24 minutes into the game. And Florida's power play, which many predicted to see a dropoff in production following the departure of free agent defenseman Jason Garrison, converted on each of its first three chances. Florida's Scottie Upshall expressed no surprise over the trio's quick emergence. "We've been watching them in practice every day," Upshall said. "Those guys are all talented." Huberdeau, still shaking butterflies from his first NHL shift, opened the scoring 3:37 into the game by stuffing the puck between Cam Ward's pads for his first NHL goal. "I thought the defenseman was going to pick me up, and he just left me alone," said Huberdeau, who as the team's top player had the honor of sporting a red velvet Three Musketeers hat lined white feathers following the game. "That was good for me. I scored because of that." After the goal, Huberdeau looked like a season pro. He registered five shots and two assists, including a highlight-reel setup on Upshall's power play tally late in the first. Huberdeau carried the puck across the blueline, this time drawing the attention of the Hurricanes defense. The rookie deked a couple times in the slot, then slid the puck to Upshall as he reached the right faceoff dot. Upshall said it was Huberdeau's moves that gave him just enough time to get into position. "I saw him look at me as I came across the blueline," Upshall said. "He made two moves to beat some guys and put it right where I like to shoot it. It was just a case of letting him do his magic and putting it on net." Kovalev, meanwhile, turned defenseman Brian Campbell from setup man to sniper. The 39-year-old Kovalev settled the tempo of the power play, dishing passes back and forth with Campbell, who ultimately converted on a one-timer for his second power play goal. Prior to Saturday, Campbell had just one two-goal game in his career. Campbell, whose passes helped Garrison record a 16-goal campaign in 2011-12, found himself wondering if he might match his former teammate's feat with the Russian at his side. "I'm definitely going to be texting Garrison tonight," Campbell said. "Alex is unbelievable to watch," Upshall said. "If you ask anyone in our league who the most talented player has been over the last 10 years, its Kovalev. The things he's able to do for the younger guys on the team and to watch his playmaking skills is awesome." Prior to the game, Florida raised just its second banner in team history. The event lasted all of 30 seconds, with a little flash of light and smoke billowing from the rafters while The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" played over the arena speakers. It marked the first time since Oct. 8, 1997 Florida took part in such a ceremony. The Panthers, fresh off a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, opened the year 8-0-4. Florida captain Ed Jovanovski, a second-year pro during that first ceremony, doesn't think opponents will be caught off-guard going forward. "We'll take this win," Jovanovski said. "We know it's going to be a grind. You have to start somewhere and it was nice to start tonight." For one evening, though, the Panthers may have caught everyone by surprise.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Barry Sanders shares thoughts on Megatron retirement talk

Report: Marshawn Lynch told friends he is retiring

WATCH: K-State players storm student section after big win

Tony Dungy coaches his way into Canton

Top eight takeaways from NFL Honors awards

Report: Austin Rivers out 4-6 weeks with broken hand

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brett Favre Hall of Fame discussion took less than 10 seconds

WATCH: Pop wishes Kobe well in heartfelt message

Eric Berry named NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Cam Newton to be named NFL MVP

Ezekiel Elliott hung out with Jim Brown

Rickie Fowler taunted by fans over his ex-girlfriend

Another star confirmed for Super Bowl 50 halftime show

WATCH: Wayne Simmonds loses his cool, earns match penalty

Winners and losers from 2016 Hall of Fame vote

Brett Favre, Tony Dungy headline Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Terrell Owens says he was not elected to Hall of Fame

Bruins prospect hit in throat with puck, taken to hospital

WATCH: Mavs rookie laughed at for trash talking Spurs bench

Norris Cole has No. 30 retired with LeBron James, New Orleans Pelicans in attendance

Three keys to victory for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Torrey Smith: ‘This is probably the best offense’ for Kaepernick

Byron Scott thought D’Angelo Russell would be further along

Under-the-radar Super Bowl 50 matchups

Is Tim Lincecum's run with the San Francisco Giants done?

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

QUIZ: Name the winning starting quarterback from every Super Bowl

The top six matchups that could decide Super Bowl 50

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

10 underrated performances in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in playoff hunt

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker