Cats Quickies: Bernier, Vokoun shine as Panthers top Thrashers with 2-1 SO victory




Quite the wild last day or so for Florida Panthers winger Steve Bernier: pointless in his past five games, the forward was waived on Thursday, cleared (as expected) Friday at noon, and caps the evening with a gamewinner against Atlanta - in the sixth-round of a shootout, no less. In PantherLand, the unreal is made very real on a nightly basis.

Despite an ultra-weak goal surrendered to Thrashers' newcomer Blake Wheeler late in the second period, goaltender Tomas Vokoun shook off a downright lousy loss against the Islanders on Monday by turning aside 45 shots - including 2 in the shootout - to gain the win on foreign ice. That's a .978 average, kids.

Blueliner Alexander Sulzer, acquired earlier Friday in a deal with Nashville, played a very solid 20:03 (even, no SOG). Steady.

Forwards Rostislav Olesz (knee) and Chris Higgins (hand) left the game early, forcing an already deadline-stressed roster to tighten considerably, likely paving the way for such a low-scoring, defense-first affair. As a hockey game, it wasn't much fun to watch, but the outcome cured all ills. For a night.

With 59 points Florida now sits 8 points behind Carolina for the final playoff spot. Yeah, I just typed that.

Notes:  Marty Reasoner - a former Thrasher - scored the lone goal in regulation for the Panthers, assisted by Radek Dvorak and Higgins.  Bryan Little assisted on Wheeler's goal.  Mike Santorelli and Wheeler also scored in the shootout.  Defenseman Bryan Allen (4 SOG!, 20:15) re-inherited Cory Stillman's "A".  Santorelli led FLA in SOG with 6, bested only by ATL's Wheeler (7).  Stephen Weiss (1 shot, no points) led ALL skaters with 26:26.  Steve Mason - replacing starter Ondrej Pavelec in the second frame - was simply sparkling, allowing no goals on 25 shots in regulation.  Florida finished with 32 SOG.  Dennis Wideman was a healthy scratch (read into that what you will, Deadline Devotees).  Remember Mark Cullen? Bagged himself 4 points (2 goals) in Rochester's 5-3 win over Manitoba.  More from Bird Watchers Anonymous here.

Next up:  Devils in Sunrise, Sunday afternoon. Live Game Thread at 4pm. Trade talk is hereby RESUMED.

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