During warmups on Thursday night, all the Florida Panthers wore No. 16 jerseys as a homage to late Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident Sept. 25.

Florida Panthers Honor Jose Fernandez During Warmups Before 2-1 OT Win Over Devils

Fittingly enough, it was the Panthers’ own No. 16, Aleksander “Sasha” Barkov who scored the game-winning goal in Thursday’s 2-1 overtime home victory over the New Jersey Devils.

The 21-year-old Finnish center, who has worn No. 16 since arriving in South Florida in 2013, represented the number well in his team’s season opener, netting the game winner with 2:12 remaining in overtime.

After the game, Barkov admitted he didn’t follow baseball very much, but like many in the Florida locker room, Fernandez was his favorite player.


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“I knew him; I knew he played in Miami and it was a big loss for South Florida and all of America,” Barkov said of the late Cuban ace, who was 24. “It felt great to honor him. It was a big loss for South Florida sports, and I feel bad for his family and everyone with the Miami Marlins.

“It was a big loss, he was my favorite baseball player. I missed the chance to meet him, but he was No. 16 with the Marlins and I’m No. 16 here. I thought we would get the chance to meet, but we never did.”

 Panthers coach Gerard Gallant couldn’t help but smile when he realized how great it was for his team to win on the night they chose to honor Fernandez.
“That’s unbelievable, really,” he said.
Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, who spent the summer rehabbing after undergoing hip surgery in early May, made 23 saves, including two key stops in the final minute of regulation.
 “[Luongo] is solid,” Gallant said. “When he’s called upon for us, he’s solid. I thought overall he played a real good solid game for us. I’m sure he’s pretty happy after the summer he put through with the hard work. It was good for him.”
Barkov scored on a one-time shot after rookie defenseman Michael Matheson stole the puck from Devils defenseman Damon Severson behind the net.
 The Panthers scored their first goal of the season halfway through the first period when Jonathan Marchessault knocked a puck off New Jersey’s Ben Lovejoy and past Cory Schneider. 

Marchessault, who signed with the Panthers as a free agent from Tampa Bay, took a pass from Barkov and sent it toward the net at 9:38 of the first period.

Schneider finished with 32 saves.

P.A. Parenteau, claimed off waivers from the New York Islanders on Tuesday, evened the game for the Devils with 29 seconds remaining in the opening period. Rookie defenseman Yohann Auvitu actually took the shot from the point, and the puck caromed off Parenteau’s leg.

Left wing Taylor Hall, who was acquired by the Devils in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers on June 29, was scoreless with two shots on goal in 20:38 of ice time in his regular-season debut for New Jersey.

The teams combined for 13 shots in a scoreless second period.

Another highlight of the game came less than a minute before Barkov scored the game winner. Jaromir Jagr was left all alone as he retrieved a puck behind the Devils’ net. Jagr took it back to the front and hesitated before making a move, giving the defense time to get back and knock the puck away.

After warming up in Fernandez jerseys, the Panthers dropped the 2015-16 Atlantic Division championship banner from the rafters.

The Panthers next host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, while the Devils will visit the Tampa Bay Lightning, also on Saturday night.

SUNRISE, FL – OCTOBER 13: Derek MacKenzie #17 of the Florida Panthers wears a jersey remembering Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miamia Marlins during Opening Night of the 2016-2017 NHL Season against New Jersey Devils at BB&T Center on October 13, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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