The Florida Panthers rang in the 20th season of NHL hockey in South Florida by streaking past the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3 in their home opener Friday night. 6-foot-6 goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who has for several years been among the top goaltending prospects in the NHL, stopped 36-of-39 shots in a game the Panthers never trailed, while Tomas Fleischmann earned first star honors with a one-goal, four point night and Finnish forward Aleksander Barkov, the second player taken in the 2013 NHL Draft, recorded a goal and two assists as well. Fleischmann and Barkov have skated at even strength with free agent signee Brad Boyes; the trio combined for 10 points in Friday’s win.

And then there’s Jonathan Huberdeau, last year’s Calder Memorial Trophy winner as the NHL’s rookie of the year. Debuting professionally as a 19-year-old in 2012-13, the third overall pick of the 2011 draft recorded 31 points (14-17-31) and was the brightest spot in an otherwise dismal season for Panthers, who dealt with major injury issues a year after winning the Southeast Division and ultimately finished with an NHL-low 36 points by virtue of a 15-27-6 record.

Keaton Ellerby, who played briefly with Huberdeau at the start of the 2012-13 season, gave a ringing endorsement of the now 20-year-old.

“He’s unreal. I mean, so much skill,” said Ellerby, who was selected 10th overall by the Panthers in 2007. “He’s not a very big guy, but he goes to the hard places and works hard, battles. He obviously has tremendous skill, and can put the puck in the net, create stuff. Power play. He’s an unreal player.”

With Florida’s young skill considered, Los Angeles expects a significant challenge at 3:00 p.m. local time on Sunday.

“They’re a very good transition team, a real skilled team up front,” Darryl Sutter said of the Panthers. “Obviously they bring [Tim] Thomas in, and he gets hurt. Markstrom plays last night, and he plays really well. Their power play was really good last night. The [Finnish] player they took they took [second] overall is a really good player. Gudbranson’s a really good player. They have lots of really young players, which they should, because they won their division two years ago but they have a high number of high draft picks in their lineup. They’re going to be really good at home. They have good leadership. They’re exceptionally well-coached. They’ll be a very tough opponent for the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow.”

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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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