With neither team headed to the playoffs, most of the goals for the Panthers and Lightning in their season finale Saturday night were individually motivated. The 30th-ranked Panthers were hoping to add to the first-year resume of teen phenom Jonathan Huberdeau and his quest to be the franchise's first Calder Trophy winner, an award given to the league's top rookie. The only thing left for the Panthers to spoil was the individual scoring race for the Art Ross Trophy between Lightning stars Martin St Louis and Steven Stamkos, who had 58 and 56 points, respectively. The 28th-ranked Lightning were also playing for more ping-pong balls in Monday's draft lottery as a loss would improve their position. Huberdeau, 19, has 28 points and entered the season finale in a three-way tie for the rookie lead in points with Ottawa's Cory Conacher and Edmonton's Nail Yakupov. However, Yakupov has three goals in his last two games and his 14 goals tied Huberdeau for the rookie lead. Montreal's Brendan Gallagher also has 14 goals and 26 points. "He's done a great job," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "Physically, he's matured as well as a hockey player and his hockey sense and his understanding how the game has to be played on both sides of the puck, has shown great steps." Huberdeau stopped looking at the rookie leaders in March while he was going through a nine-game goal slump, yet he did know that Gallagher had tied him in goals. "You hear about it but if I put pressure on myself to win it won't happen so I try not to think about it," Huberdeau said. "I need to finish strong and see what happens at the end of the year." Dineen has placed Huberdeau on the top line with Tomas Fleischmann, the team scoring leader, and center Marcel Goc, who has 18 points, but four goals and two assists in his last nine games. "I will try to help him out as much as I can," Goc said. "If you have a teammate who accomplishes that, it's something you can be proud of." If the 37-year-old St Louis prevails he would be the oldest points leader since the award's inception in 1947-48. Red Wings legend Gordie Howe was 34 when he led with 86 points in 1962-63. "You never want somebody breaking a record or getting a scoring title on your time," Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver said. "Any ounce of energy I'll be putting in to stop that."
Panthers final game more about helping Huberdeau win Calder than earning two points
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Apr 28