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CBS4's Steve Goldstein: Panthers split pre-season opener, extend goalie Knight's contract

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SUNRISE - After the Florida Panthers opened their pre-season with a doubleheader in Nashville they made big news on Tuesday by extending the contract of goaltender Spencer Knight.

At age 21, Knight is shown maturity beyond his years and the Panthers feel the former 1st round draft pick is their goalie of the future and could certainly grab more playing time in the present.

This season he will play out the third and final year of his entry-level contract and then his new three year deal will kick in. Knight has shown flashes of being a dominant goaltender and has the demeanor to be effective despite his very young age.

On Ice
Meanwhile, on the ice, the pre-season is underway and the Panthers split a pair of games in Nashville.

Alexander Barkov scored the overtime winner at the buzzer to win game one while the Predators came back to win the second game. Knight was excellent in game two, playing the first half of that game and stopping 19 of 20 shots.

Barkov centered a line with Carter Verhaeghe and Rudolfs Balcers on the wings. They have played together since the start of training camp last week. Balsers, acquired as a free agent from San Jose, is getting the opportunity of a lifetime. New coach Paul Maurice in the night game had Sam Bennett centering Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart. If they end up staying together it is probably the best second line in the NHL.

The assured top defense pair of Aaron Ekblad and Gustav Forsling saw extensive ice time in the overtime win.

Cuts Coming
Training camp saw a number of players that will play in the AHL in Charlotte and go back to their junior teams. This week before Thursday's preseason home game against Carolina, the Panthers will pare the roster down significantly.

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