Admittedly actually saw only about a third of this one, but enough to credit the Cats with a gut-it-out, survival-mode victory over a scrappy-yet-effective Islanders squad who not once rolled over. Most fittingly as this evening, proclaimed "Bill Torrey Night", should leave the man who constructed both organizations beaming with pride; each squad "showed up" and put on a satisfying performance. Not perfection, but enough to keep the house happy.
The international headline for tonight will understandably be Isles' forward John Tavares' first career hat trick, but the ultimate story lies in recalled Rochester defenseman Keaton Ellerby's dual assists (+2) and Tomas Vokoun's 30 saves - few of the miraculous sort; most grounded in a team effort.
Mike Weaver, Steve Bernier, David Booth, and Radek Dvorak were each able to slip markers past New York's Rick DiPietro (26 saves), who waged a gallant fight - and made a solid case - in an effort to re-establish his previously iron-clad starter's role.
Tavares of course capped the visitors' scoring, with assists to James Wisniewski (2), P.A. Parenteau (2), Matt Moulson and Blake Comeau. To the detriment of my own fantasy team - but ear-to-ear smiles from my reality team - center Josh Bailey (hip pointer) was barred from action.
Notes: Panthers' defenseman Dennis Wideman again led all skaters with 23:07, a click over the Isles' Comeau...a forward. Former Cat Jon Sim finished with 0 points (2 SOG). Sort-of former Cat Michael Grabner had two shots (-2). Dvorak and Bryan McCabe paced Florida with four shots apiece; Tavares had seven. Panthers helpers: Ellerby, Weaver , Michael Frolik, McCabe, Marty Reasoner, and Wideman. Wisniewski had five shots. Reported attendance was 15,071. Check out our buds at Light House Hockey for a Downeaster Alexa-style representation.
Next up: at Toronto 7pm Tuesday, 10/26; Live Game Chat underway right here at 6:30. We'll update on viewing options closer to the game. Sure wasn't easy tonight.