The Panthers had plenty of luck tonight, two third period goals from Tomas Fleischmann, Jose Theodore standing tall as the Jets poured on the chances; but ultimately they ran out of luck with 50 seconds left on the clock. Yeah, the call at the end was questionable(or if anything, indecisive) but sometimes that's how the game goes. Ask the Buffalo fans on Saturday. Anyhow, the Panthers didn't exactly deserve those two points after coming out flat at home and letting a sub-par team set up the cycle for extended periods of time. In fact, Florida's performance wasn't much different tonight than it was in Ottawa, except this time they escaped with a point.
I suppose we should give Winnipeg credit; they aren't as bad as we assumed. You can accredit that to their droves of young talent though, not to any geographical movements. Having a goalie who can stop 39 shots, including some huge chances and secondary plays, never hurts either. Alas, we'll see them again soon. And remember what happened to the last team we met up with that embarrassed us at home.
1st: After returning home from the three game road trip, the Cats started the game in the manner we hoped; quickly. Florida controlled the puck for the first few shifts keeping Winnipeg at bay, but the Jets would take an early lead when Andrew Ladd threw the puck out front to an open Kyle Wellwood who'd send a quick shot over the shoulder of Jose Theodore for an early lead(from Ladd and Stuart). For the next few minutes Winnipeg would enjoy the momentum but wouldn't be able to add to their lead. Scottie Upshall would lay a hit on Evander Kane in the corner and would subsequently be called for elbowing. With the terrible penalty kill of late, it wasn't a big surprise the Jets would capitalize. It would be Kane who would put the puck in the net, assisted by Nik Antropov and Zach Bogosian. Tomas Fleischmann would be high sticked in the neutral zone by Dustin Byfuglien to give the Panthers their first powerplay of the night. The Cats had no problem setting up, but no one could make the pass or pull the trigger. After the powerplay, you could sense some major urgency in the Panthers play as they continued cycling long after Byfuglien exited the penalty box. Ondrej Pavalec would muscle through the numerous chances Florida tested him with in the final 4 minutes, and he would turn away all but one. Jason Garrison, the king of clutch, would sail a slapshot past Pavalec with 20 seconds left in the period, assists going to Brian Campbell and Tomas Fleischmann. The period would end on that positive note, the score remaining at 2-1 Jets.
2nd: The second period wouldn't start out quite how the first ended, it was apparent that Claude Noel had a few words with his players to settle them down after the late breakdown. Not much would happen in the early part of the period, but Former Panther Kenndal McArdle would take a hooking call as Shawn Matthias drove into the Jets zone. Fast forward to less than 4 minutes left in the period, Jack Skille would lay a massive check on Tobias Enstrom in the corner, 400lb Byfuglien would come over and rag doll little Jack Skille around, earning himself a 4 minute double minor for roughing. The Panthers couldn't muster much in the way of scoring chances during those four minutes with any and all shots being covered by Pavalec.
3rd: With the final seconds of the powerplay killed by Winnipeg, Skille and Ladd would do a little dance at center ice. While neither Ladd or Skille are known for dropping the gloves, they both threw some good punches before being broken up by the linesmen. With those two in the box, Mike Weaver would let a one timer fly from the point where Flash would corral the rebound from between Byfugliens legs and send it past a sprawling Pavalec to tie the game (assists to Weaver, Kris Versteeg). After what seemed like hours of back and forth, cycling chances for Winnipeg, Dmitry Kulikov would be called for a high sticking infraction to give the Jets their second powerplay of the night. While the Jets couldn't score on thier man advantage, a few minutes later Florida would go on their 4th as Blake Wheeler would tie up Fleischmann along the boards. One goal and an assist wouldn't be good enough for The Flash though, why not add another one on the powerplay? Tomas would do just that to take the lead with just 2 minutes left in the game, assists going to Kulikov and Campbell. With the net empty for the better part of two minutes, Evander Kane would knock the puck out of mid air (near the height of the crossbar) and drop the puck through Theodore to tie the game with 50 seconds left. After getting a favorable call go their way the game before, the Panthers wouldn't be so lucky when the review returned good goal, so the two teams would head to overtime.
OT/SO: The five overtime minutes weren't particularly exciting, other than a few big glove saves from Theodore. This game was headed for the skillz comp. Kris Versteeg, Mike Santorelli and Stephen Weiss would get the nod for the shootout, Tim Stapleton, Ladd and Wellwood would go for Winnipeg. Stapleton would miss the net on his attempt, Pavalec would stop Versteeg with the glove. Ladd would shoot oone through Theodore's five hole, Santorelli would miss the net. Kyle Wellwood would deke Theodore and slide one into the open net. Jets win.
- Someone breathe some life into the penalty kill. Cardboard cutouts would be better than what Gord's been throwing out there lately. Who misses Radek Dvorak? I sure do.
- The powerplay has been putting up great numbers despite being poorly executed. We'll take the goals but dang, how are we getting them in the first place.
- Jason Garrison has 3 goals in 3 games, Campbell has 11 assists in 11 games. Can't ask for much more from that pairing.
- Since we're only getting goals from the first line, maybe we could shuffle those other three. Just this once.
- Tomas Fleischmann is looking extremely dangerous on the ice, at the rate he's firing them home we're looking at a 35+ goal season. Flash also earned an assist tonight.
- Three cheers for Jack Skille! The guy lives and breathes energy.
- Here's hoping whatever Tomas Kopecky's injury sustained at the end of overtime isn't serious. Kopecky has (quietly) been making a big difference this year.
- Can we please see Mikael Samuelsson now? The second line needs a playmaker, stat.
- Maybe Marco Sturm escaped the wrath of Brendan Shanahan, but I highly doubt Upshall will. Skille's hit will probably be looked at too, but I doubt much will come of it.