SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 3: Michael Santorelli #13 of the Florida Panthers looks for a rebound as goaltender Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens falls back into the net as he makes a save on March 3, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
We'll rehash the phrase utilized so often this season to summarize a dreary evening at the BankAtlantic Center: It could have been worse. Really.
Suffering a four-goal blanking on home ice (it was home ice, yes?) is difficult enough for even the most hardened "Tank Now" proponent to accept, but there were several glimmers of hope for the future in Florida, as the Panthers again played to their admittedly few strengths (speed and, well, speed) against a goaltender in Carey Price who was simply above this game.
Dmitry Kulikov (-1) led all skaters with 22:55 TOI, Jason Garrison (-1) threw a Skille-ish 8 hits, and David Booth launched 6 SOG. Only two Panthers escaped the night with an even-rating: Marty Reasoner and defenseman Mike Weaver (though frustratingly no shots for either veteran). The penalty kill remained solid (1-1), while three efforts on the man-advantage went fruitless.
But it was Price's day, turning away 30 Florida shots en route to his 7th shutout of the year. Goals by Hal Gill (!), Andrei Kostitsyn, David Desharnais, and Lars Eller were far more than enough to seal the Panthers' fate.
If anyone should take notice, it's the Hurricanes: barely surviving a tight, spirited match on Tuesday over the stripped-down Cats, they should wisely become thoroughly familiar with video from this one. Montreal was in a class of one; a Men vs. Boys situation gone mad. And it wasn't for a lack of effort (yes, that is a recording, but an accurate one).