Former Boston College goalie Spencer Knight played the role of hero on Monday evening, stopping 36 shots in a 4-1 Florida Panthers win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5. At 20 years and 35 days old, Knight became the youngest goalie ever to win an elimination game in the NHL.
Knight got the call to start later in the evening, a decision announced at the last moment by head coach Joel Quenneville. The Boston College Men's Athlete of the Year, Knight was the third starting goalie the Panthers ran with during the series, as Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger had split duties up until that point. And his start was huge, as the Panthers faced elimination, but the rookie stood tall.
The start of the game went as poorly as anyone could fear as Ross Colton slipped a shot past Knight on the first shot of the game. However, the rookie rallied.
"Once you let one in you kind of just reset and you're like, 'Alright, this is how it's going to go, can't do anything to change it so let's just go play now,'" Knight said. "That's how it was. It was a good goal by them, great play, but I just tried to recover. Just smile and have fun."
From there on out, Knight stood tall. As the Panthers offense roared to life, Knight stopped everything, holding the Lightning to zero goals the rest of the way.
"His whole career coming up to joining us this year gave you every indication that he's capable of doing it, and now it's just an opportunity," Quenneville said. "When he did play for us right off the bat his composure gave you every indication that he's capable of handling any kind of situation. We're in a situation where hey, we've got nothing to lose, so let's go in there and have some fun with it. He did. He was great. That was a goalie win."
For Boston College fans, Knight's big play was not a surprise either. During his time in Chestnut Hill. He played two seasons for the Eagles, with an overall record of 39-12 and a .932 save percentage, along with eight shut outs. Knight ranked fifth in the nation in save percentage and tied for fifth in wins, the most among sophomore goaltenders. Drafted with the 13th overall pick by the Panther in 2019, Knight left Boston College this March and almost immediately started battling for playing time.
Game six of the seven game series will be on Wednesday at 8pm. There is no word at this time who the starting goalie will be.
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