Actor Kevin Spacey appears at Panthers game

The Florida Panthers got a surprise visit from their source of inspiration this season.

The Florida Panthers got a surprise visit from their source of inspiration this season.

Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey, the man who is depicted on a sweatshirt given to the team’s player of the game, attended a Panthers home game on Saturday. Typical of Spacey’s acting style, the grand unveil was full of suspense.

Wearing the famous “Spacey in Space” hoodie, the House of Cards lead hid behind a cutout of his face, which had also been given to fans in attendance. Then, 8:07 into the second period, Spacey removed his mask and appeared on the BT&T Center video screen during a stoppage in play.

The crowd erupted, giving Spacey a standing ovation as he smiled with his hands raised in appreciation. He then danced around and clapped to the music. Spacey’s appearance sparked what the Panthers announced to be the largest regular-season crowd in team history as 20,817 fans attended the game.

But Spacey couldn’t help the home team. The Panthers lost 5-3 to the Atlantic Division-rival Detroit Red Wings after watching a two-goal lead vanish into outer space. They were up 3-1 until Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk scored on the power play with 10.1 seconds left in the middle period. The win was a big one for Detroit, which extended its wild card lead over Philadelphia to three points in the Eastern Conference. Florida remained first in the Atlantic, two points up on Tampa Bay.

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Spacey visited the Panthers dressing room after the game, wearing the sweatshirt of course. Center Nick Bjugstad told the experience would have been better had the Panthers won. However, there was some levity. Spacey congratulated center Aleksander Barkov on his recent six-year, $35.4-million contract extension.

“He said he wanted a piece of it,” Barkov said.