Certainly not the headline we were all hoping for as the 2010-2011 NHL season comes to a close, but it's the reality nonetheless. The Panthers finished their road schedule in Tampa this evening, dropping a 4-2 contest that featured the Vincent Lecavalier show. Lecavalier scored on a first period power play tally, and checked in early in the second frame with a penalty shot goal against a horribly outmatched Scott Clemmensen. Ryan Malone and Pavel Kubina had the other two goals for the Bolts, while Jason Garrison and Mike Santorelli scored for the Panthers. Santorelli hit the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his NHL career, so congrats to Mike, and congrats to Mike Santos for bringing him in. A very worthy find indeed.
With this loss, the Panthers have secured the 28th slot in the league, thanks to a New York Islanders shootout loss to Pittsburgh. That means a better chance in the lottery, which will be held on Tuesday, April 12 at 8PM EST. Florida will have a 14.2% chance to win the first overall selection, and the worst pick they would end up with if they do not win the drafft lottery will be fourth overall. Ladies and gentleman, get out your rabbit's feet, lucky charms, mood rings, totems, or whatever else you have to help root the Panthers on for the top pick. Nugent-Hopkins would look really good on the back of a red Panthers sweater... right?
Notables: Santorelli was once again one of the best Panther forwards, notching a goal and an assist and finishing +2 on the evening; you can't say enough about his effort night in and night out. Evgeny Dadonov collected two assists and finished +2 as well, with several good scoring chances, including a shot that rang off the post. Looking forward to seeing Dadonov up in the bigs for a full season next year. Garrison had yet another solid game on both sides of the ice, and has pretty much ensured he and Mike Weaver will be the top pairing for the Panthers next season. Lastly, Malone seems to be back to his pre-injury self, and is just what Tampa will need during its playoff run this postseason. His strength and play on the puck is amongst the best in the league when he is on top of his game.
Be sure to head over to Raw Charge and wish our cross-state rivals a bit of luck in the upcoming postseason. Only one more to go until the next Confetti-gate: the Panthers host the Capitals Saturday, April 9 @ 7PM. Cheers!