It's been awhile since the Panthers have iced a team that looked hungry, determined and full of energy. They did just that against the Boston Bruins on Monday night, and despite all the hard work they only managed to earn a point, falling in the shootout to the Bruins 3-2. This was a hard-earned point for the Panthers and despite the loss, the Cats will hopefully build off of this effort, as they were the better team for large stretches of this game. Florida threw 40 shots on Boston netminder Tukka Rask, who was as fantastic as Panther Scott Clemmensen, but in the end it was yet another disappointing shootout finish for the Panthers costing them an extra point in the standings. Those points are starting to pile up, especially now that division rivals Washington and Winnipeg are breathing down the Panthers' necks.
The Panthers would come out with some buzz, but would again let up an early goal as Patrice Bergeron scored nearly a minute and a half after the opening draw. The Cats turned the puck over and Bergeron beat Clemmensen high blocker side; not his best effort as he was looked to be not out of the crease far enough to fully cover the angle, even though the puck was tipped with a stick on the way in. The Panthers nearly scored right after though, as Mike Santorelli used his speed to get a good scoring chance on Rask, but couldn't slam it home, though Matt Bradley did draw a penalty on the rush and put the Cats on their first powerplay of the evening. The Cats would keep the pressure up, nearly scoring off an odd-man rush featuring Michael Repik and Shawn Matthias, but Matthias couldn't tuck the puck past a sprawling Rask. After that point the Panthers cooled off a bit and slowed down, giving the Bruins a few chances thanks to some sloppy zone clears and bad passing. The teams traded shots to end the period as Boston went into the break with a one-goal lead despite the Panthers outshooting and outchancing them.
The Bruins would come out firing at Clemmensen, hemming Florida in their own zone early in the period. The Cats would find their feet though and start pressuring Boston more and more. Florida fought hard in both zones and were finally paid for their efforts as Jason Garrison ripped a slapper towards the Boston net, and it pinballed off Dennis Seidenberg and past Rask for the Panthers first goal of the game. This looked to possibly have deflected off Santorelli but Garrison was credited with his 12th. The Panthers kept coming with Repik just barely missing a goal after beating Rask five-hole. Boston came back and drew a penalty off a wild scramble in front of the Panther net, nearly beating Clemmensen who was out of sorts due to the heavy traffic in front. Boston would get their first powerplay of the night, and the Panthers would get an unfortunate break as Matthias would take a delay of game penalty while trying to clear the puck while falling after being hooked from behind. Clemmensen would keep the Panthers even with Boston after a brilliant save on Bergeron in front, but Bergeron would strike again off a deflection, scoring his second of the night, and the Cats would remain on the PK for another minute. They would successfully kill off the remaining minute and Matthias would get a chance to redeem himself right out of the box, and redeem he did as he beat Rask to even it up at two. The Cats would then go on the powerplay as Zdeno Chara would head to the box, but Boston would kill it off despite some great chances for Florida. The period would end shortly after with the teams knotted at two.
There would be plenty of action in the third as both teams would go back and forth for the first ten minutes, and both Clemmensen and Rask would keep the game tied. Boston managed to catch up in shots but Florida seemed to have the better of the chances. Both teams started to play a bit more cautiously, clogging the neutral zone and not giving the other much space to break into the offensive zone. The Bruins started tilting the ice in their favor however, pressuring the Cats with some tough shots and testing Clemmensen down low. The Bruins kept pushing but Florida stood strong, and nearly won it off a Repik breakaway with just over a minute to go, but he backhanded the puck wide and we went into overtime tied at two. Cats managed to pull a point out against the best team in the NHL; not too shabby.
The Panthers would get a golden opportunity as Bergeron would get called for hooking against Tomas Fleischmann. However, the Bruins had a fantastic effort from their penalty killers and the Panthers didn't look like they had much urgency on the man advantage, and so the penalty would be killed off without much firepower from the Panthers. Other than one shift in the offensive zone for Boston, the Panthers absolutely dominated the overtime period but Rask would stop them all and it was shootout time.
Marcel Goc stopped by Rask
Benoit Poulliot stopped by Clemmensen
Dmitry Kulikov shoots wide on Rask
Tyler Seguin misses the Panther net
Stephen Weiss dekes Rask out of his jock and scores
Bergeron beats Clemmensen to even it up
Mikael Samuelsson mishandles the puck and doesn't even get a shot off...
David Krejci wins it by beating Clemmensen five-hole
- Congratulations to Weiss for becoming the Panthers all-time assist leader. Few players in the brief history of this franchise have had the kind of success that Weiss has had in his career, and here's to hoping he sets many more franchise records in a Panthers sweater. Including playoff records.
- There's a ton of walking dead returning this month for the Panthers, such as Scottie Upshall, Sean Bergenheim, Marco Sturm and others. There's only so many roster spots to go around, but Repik is making his case to stay. He's not only showing some of the offensive creativity at times, but he's working hard and getting into the high traffic areas on the ice to make plays. He's been one of the best Panthers during a rough stretch for the team and may have earned the right to stay up. That said, I doubt he will with all the $$ being paid to the rest of that group. Also, San Antonio could sure use Repik again.
- There have been tons of offsides against the Panthers during this rough patch of losses they've endured. The timing of each line seems to be off and that's something that can be addressed in practice. However, you have to wonder how much of that is related to the shuffling of lines.
- Santorelli looked quick and determined in this game, and fought hard in the corners and around the net. He's starting to get the message. The line of Santorelli, Matt Bradley and Krys Barch was the best line for Florida all game and drew penalties, forechecked hard and generated several scoring chances.
- I've said it several times over the last few games I've covered: the turnovers in the defensive and neutral zone have to stop. Too many passes up the middle, creating terrible turnovers and handcuffing the rest of the team from breaking out cleanly and with speed. The first goal scored by the Bruins was the direct result of another sloppy pass up the middle of the ice in the neutral zone. Can't have that and expect to not pay for it.
- WAY too many rebounds from Clemmensen tonight in the first period. He came back with a solid effort the rest of the game however. Clemmer is one of those goalies who just starts to really get into a groove once he's had some action. He looked awfully good in this one as the game went on.
- Tyler Seguin more than makes up for the loss of Mark Recchi. He's been excellent for the Bruins so far this season and is again making Brian Burke cringe with every point he scores. He will no doubt be the top center for Boston in the not-too-distant future.
- Ed Jovanovski fought Daniel Paille. I forgot how friggin nasty Jovo is when he's mad. He could've collapsed Paille's face had he hit with one of those haymakers. Boy does that bring back some memories. Unfortunately, Jovo left the game after that with an upper body injury and would not return.
- Tonight's beverage of choice: the El Presidente, featuring 2 oz. of white rum, 1/2 oz. of fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz. pineapple juice and a dash (or two) of grenadine, shaken and strained.
- CURSE YOU SHOOTOUT, CURSE YOU
Care to guess what the Cats will be practicing during their next session on the ice? It ain't the hokey pokey. We'll be back on Wednesday as the Panthers head to Colorado to face off against the Avalanche. The Avs have been streaky all season long but are a dangerous young team and are capable of giving the Panthers a tough game if the Cats don't come wearing their game faces.