Sergei Bobrovsky’s Road to 300 Wins

There was plenty for the Florida Panthers to celebrate on Thursday night in Sunrise, Florida. Not only did the Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 to move to 4-0 on the young season, but goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 30 of 31 shots on his way to notching his 300th win in the National Hockey League.

“Yeah, it definitely means something. I’ve been fortunate to play with great players, with great defensemen and forwards and teams. I appreciate them for this milestone.”

Sergei Bobrovsky on reaching 300 career wins in the NHL

The 33-year-old Bobrovsky became the third Russian goalie in NHL history to reach 300 wins, joining San Jose Sharks legend Evgeni Nabokov (353 wins) and Olympic gold medalist/Stanley Cup champion Nikolai Khabibulin (333 wins). He also became the second-fastest goaltender in NHL history to reach 300 wins, doing it in 541 appearances. Only goaltending pioneer Jacques Plante reached the mark in fewer appearances (521). To commemorate the milestone, let’s take a little trip down memory lane and recount a few of Bob’s most notable wins on the road to 300.

The First Win (Oct. 7, 2010)

Bobrovsky was eligible for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, but was not selected. The Philadelphia Flyers considered drafting him, but ultimately passed due to a fear of not being able to sign him. Following four seasons in Russia, Bobrovsky did sign with the Flyers on May 6, 2010. He made his NHL debut on the opening night of the 2010-11 season, getting tasked with the starting assignment on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The rookie kept the Penguins out of the net through the first two periods and tallied 29 saves in a 3-2 Flyers win over their in-state rivals.

Bobrovsky got his career started on the right foot, beating the mighty Penguins in Pittsburgh for the Flyers.
(cr: clydeorama@flickr)

With his first-star effort in Pittsburgh, Bobrovsky became the youngest goaltender (22 years, 17 days) in Flyers history at the time to win a season-opener. He followed that up with another win in his second career start (and home debut), stopping 25 shots in a 4-2 Flyers victory over the Avalanche four days later.

The First Win as a Blue Jacket (Jan. 19, 2013)

Bobrovsky had a solid rookie season in Philly, going 28-13-8 with a 2.59 goals-against average (GAA) and a .915 save percentage (SV%). Come playoff time, however, he struggled, going 0-2 with seven goals allowed in three starts (one of which he got pulled after 12 minutes). He was relegated to part-time duty the next season, finishing with a 14-10 record, 3.02 GAA and .899 SV% in 29 appearances, and was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets the following offseason.

Due to the NHL lockout, the 2012-13 season didn’t start until Jan. 19, 2013, which is when Bobrovsky made his Blue Jackets debut. On the road against the Nashville Predators, he put together a 32-save performance, shaking off two first-period goals to help lead the Jackets to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Predators. He stopped 39 of 42 shots two days later in his Columbus home debut, but this time, the Blue Jackets fell in a shootout to the Detroit Red Wings. His first win at Nationwide Arena came a week later, when he made 24 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars.

The First Shutout (March 9, 2013)

Bobrovsky dominated during the shortened 2013 lockout season, winning 21 of the 38 games he appeared in and registering career highs in GAA (2.00) and SV% (.932) on his way to winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender. That award-winning season featured four shutouts, including the first shutout win of his career, which came on March 9 at Nationwide Arena. Bobrovsky stopped all 29 shots slung his way in a 3-0 Blue Jackets’ victory over the Red Wings. It was his fourth in a string of five straight wins, a feat he would accomplish twice during that season.

The First Playoff Win (April 19, 2014)

Bobrovsky almost led the up-and-coming Blue Jackets to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2013, but they fell just short. He did lead them to the postseason the next year, going 32-20-5 with a 2.38 GAA and a .923 SV% during the regular season. It was just the second playoff berth in the team’s 14-year history.

He surrendered four goals in the first game of the first-round series against Pittsburgh, a 4-3 Penguins win, but he rebounded with an extraordinary effort in Game 2, halting 39 of 42 shots in a double-overtime victory. Not only was it Bobrovsky’s first career postseason win, it was the first postseason win in franchise history for the Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky and the team got their first home playoff win four days later, again winning 4-3 in extra time (just one overtime this time), though they went on to lose the series in six games.

The 100th Win (November 15, 2014)

The 2014-15 season wasn’t quite as strong for Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets, but the netminder still went 30-17-3 with a 2.68 GAA and a .918 SV%. He also reached the century mark in the win column, making 36 saves in a 2-1 home win over the Sharks.

Bobrovsky notched his 100th victory in his return from a broken finger that had sidelined him for over two weeks. Due mainly to key injuries like that, the Blue Jackets were not able to make a return trip to the postseason. The following season was disappointing for everyone, including Bobrovsky, who went 15-19-1 with a 2.75 GAA and a.908 SV%.

The 200th Win (Jan. 2, 2018)

He rebounded in a big way in 2016-17, going 41-17-5 with a 2.06 GAA and a .931 SV% en route to his second Vezina Trophy. He carried that performance into 2017-18, going 37-22-6 with a 2.42 GAA and a .921 SV%. Those 37 wins included the Russian’s 200th, which came on the second day of the 2018 calendar year against the Stars. He didn’t have to do too much, stopping 21 shots and giving up nothing until the third period in a 2-1 road victory.

The Biggest Wins (April 10-16, 2019)

Although Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets made it back to the postseason in 2017 and 2018, they weren’t able to get over the first-round hump. Columbus sneaked into the playoffs again in 2019, but it looked like it would be another one-and-done for the team, as they had to face the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. The Bolts had just become the second team in NHL history to win 62 games in a season.

As many expected, the series got off to an auspicious start. The veteran gave up three quick goals and the team was down 3-0 after one period in Tampa. However, Columbus clawed back and shocked the Lightning 4-3 on their home ice, thanks in part to Bobrovsky, who stonewalled the talented Tampa offense for the final two periods, making big save after big save (26 in total).

Columbus Blue Jackets Sergei Bobrovsky Tampa Bay Lightning Adam Erne
Bobrovsky was a major part of Columbus’s shocking sweep of Tampa Bay in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs
(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Bobrovsky and the team carried that momentum into Game 2 (a 5-1 win), Game 3 (a 3-1 win in which he was named first star after a 30-save performance) and Game 4 (a 7-3 win), sweeping the Lightning. The Blue Jackets went on to lose to the Boston Bruins in six games the next round. Bobrovsky started all 10 of Columbus’ playoff games, going 6-4 with a 2.41 GAA and a .925 SV%.

The First Win as a Panther (Oct. 5, 2019)

Following that postseason performance, Bobrovsky, who was a free agent, cashed in, signing a seven-year, $70 million deal with the Panthers. After losing the season opener in Tampa, Bobrovsky made his BB&T Center (now FLA Live Arena) debut, once again facing the Lightning. He turned away 29 shots, holding on for a 4-3 victory.

Sergei’s first season in south Florida was far from sunny, as he went 23-19-6 with a 3.23 GAA (the worst of his career) and .900 SV%. He improved those number in his second season in Sunrise, going 19-8-2 with a 2.91 GAA and a .906 SV% in a season abbreviated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he struggled in the playoffs, getting benched for rookie Spencer Knight, who played well, setting up a goaltender controversy heading into the 2021-22 season

The 300th Win (Oct. 21, 2021)

Despite Bobrovsky’s postseason struggles (and Knight’s emergence), head coach Joel Quenneville tapped him with the opening night start, and he rewarded Coach Q for his faith in the veteran, stopping 43 of 47 shots in an overtime win over Pittsburgh. He followed that up with a 29-save effort two nights later in a 5-1 win over the New York Islanders.

Florida Panthers Sergei Bobrovsky
Bobrovsky’s Panthers tenure hasn’t been the smoothest ride, but there has been some joy in the journey
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Then came Thursday night, when the 33-year-old goaltender made 30 saves in front of his home crowd, helping the Panthers beat the Avalanche and joining the 36 other goaltenders (and two other Russian goalies) in the 300-win club.

Bobrovsky’s career has been filled with ups and downs. He’s been traded, he’s been benched multiple times, and he’s currently fighting to keep his starting job. He has also accomplished things few other players have, including winning the Vezina Trophy multiple times and reaching 300 career victories. Not bad for an undrafted free agent from Novokuznetsk, Russia.

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