SUNRISE FL - DECEMBER 17: Teammates congratulate goaltender Tomas Vokoun #29 of the Florida Panthers after they defeated the Buffalo Sabres on December 17 2010 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise Florida. The Panthers defeated the Sabres 6-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
More an observation than a game recap...
Friday should be viewed as nothing less than a truly remarkable reversal of fortune - fortune earned through sixty mostly solid minutes of tight forechecking, fulfilling assignments, and converting on advantages of all shapes and sizes. Not simply a game of Xs and Os, coach Peter DeBoer (and by extension, assistants Gord Murphy and fan-battered forward boss Jim Hulton) allowed the Panthers a certain degree of freedom to use their talents, unrestrained by strategies typically defined as "trapping" on an offensively-challenged squad; it was free-flowing, leg-moving, attack-or-die improvisation from start to finish with few letdowns. Foot speed, quick passes, and tempered physicality were in evidence from start to finish. All the particular roles were played to maximum effectiveness. A carbon-copy of the hard-fought battles we witnessed in Edmonton and Vancouver earlier in the year, minus any semblence of a funny bounce directed their way by angry hockey deities seemingly intent on destroying the Cats.
To wit: everything Florida did right in the opening fifteen minutes of Wednesday's eventual Catastrophe du Caroline was replicated, recharged, and ramped up...most importantly, it was maintained.
Notes: Tomas Vokoun stopped 41 shots, while the Ryan Miller / Patrick Lalime duo combined for 20. Stephen Weiss scored shorthanded in the third period. Rookie Evgeny Dadonov has 3 points (1g) in his past two. Regardless of the final score, no Florida player had more than 3 SOG (Shawn Matthias, Chris Higgins, Michael Frolik) while Buffalo had four players with 4. Every Panther was an -even- or better with the sole exception of David Booth (-1)...Matthias led with +3. Florida scorers: Weiss (SH), Booth (PP), Marty Reasoner (2), Bryan McCabe, and Frolik. Assists: Dennis Wideman, Weiss, Matthias (2), Higgins (2), Jason Garrison, Dadonov (2), Frolik. BUF scorers: Derek Roy, Tim Connolly (PPG). More from the awesome Die By The Blade here.
Next up: Cats in Philly on Monday. Live Game Chat at 6.