With less than 24 hours before the trade deadline, Florida Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon should be happy with the resiliency of his team coming off back-to-back comeback wins as the season came down to the wire. The confidence had definitely hit a high note for the Panthers, after vanquishing their shootout demons the night before Florida found themselves in a familiar hole but as they'd done in the last three games, the team climbed back out to secure a point. This time Florida didn't settle for extra time to decide the game, they sprung right back into the game amassing four unanswered goals to dispatch a reeling Montreal Canadiens club.
Not without continuing errors and misplays that will have to be sorted out by April, but as it stands the Panthers enter tomorrow's circus as buyers and look somewhat comfortably towards the playoffs with games at hand and two points separating them from the divisional pack. The moves may not be huge, but they might not need to be as Florida rolls into the last stretch of games riding high while holding the easiest schedule of their divisional rivals. The win over the Habs proves Florida is far from throwing in the towel as so many experts seem to believe, and with new additions and returning players filling the holes in the lineup the Panthers are poised to reclaim their odds of making the playoffs.
-4:01 Weiss(15) assists to Samuelsson and Bergenheim
-9:52 Brian Campbell(4) assists to Bergenheim and Weiss
- Tomas Kopecky had a terrible breakout attempt and lame recovery that led to the Canadiens' first goal, he was hit squarely as he tried to get fancy, got undressed by Erik Cole at the blueline and let the Habs players walk right in. Add the shaky Erik Gudbranson Ed Jovanovski pairing and Scott Clemmensen and you have a goal.
- Kopecky would later play a part in the next Montreal goal, taking a pointless hooking penalty in the offensive zone, then Kris Versteeg would get called when he got tangled up with an opposing player. When it rains it pours.
- Weiss' goal would be a display of pure determination in front of the net after Ellerby's shot from the point. Weiss would take the faceoff and skate immediately to the front of the net, battle with the defenseman and catch the rebound sending it past sprawling Peter Budaj. Maybe it was the demotion last night and adrenaline from winning the shootout last night, but he looked much better than he had in the games before.
- Mike Santos was on with Goldie during the intermission, and I must say I have complete faith in what he and Dale Tallon are doing. The two have instilled a sense of confidence the organization and fans sorely needed, and for once the promises made by years of GM regimes are starting to come true.
- Unnecessary penalties and Sean Bergenheim go hand in hand. But so does scoring. Bergy's 14 goals in 41 games has proved he isn't a fluke any longer, his goals are coming at critical times during this second half, and his energy has been exceptional since returning from injury. With a full season to work with, he could easily be a 30 goal scorer.
- Again, Stephen Weiss has done exactly what the Panthers have needed to do to win games; go to the front of the net. The goalies Florida has seen haven't controlled rebounds well, and Weiss might be showing his teammates just how easy it is to score from the front of the net.
- The second period was nothing but a string of icing calls for Montreal, and Florida was able to capitalize on the tired bodies. I likey.
- Florida could see the fear in the Habs' eyes, but Budaj and his acrobatic style kept Montreal in the game longer than they should have. That and the posts.
- With one of the worst penalty killing units in the league, the Panthers really need to watch the penalties, whether "smart" penalties or not. That includes those of the bench and delay of game variety.
- Wojtek Wolski may be that extra piece the Panthers need for their powerplay, he has great chemistry with Bergenheim and Shawn Matthias and has the speed to push past defenders.
- Montreal calmed the game down in the third period, which I don't see as a good sign for the Panthers. I know one goal games are part of the excitement of a Florida Panthers home game at the Lexus Rink at the BankAtlantic Center, but the team really needs to bury games earlier.
- Good for Campbell breaking his scoring drought with an important goal in the third period. The overworked Soupy missed a mostly open net earlier in the game and his frustration was quite audible in the form of a naughty four letter word, so it was certainly a big one for Campbell.
- You know things are going well when the once stingy refs give Florida four straight powerplays. They didn't score, but they will in the future.
Chris' First Star: Can you really go with anyone other than Stephen Weiss? After a little pregame ceremony in his honor, Weiss dominated all over the ice and got the Panthers back into the game. Bergenheim also had a three point night.
Chris' Worst Star: Besides the usual waste of a roster spot Krys Barch, Kopecky was terrible in the game, his dumb breakout attempt caused a goal, his dumb penalty lead to a goal, then he got hurt. Not a good game for the TomKop.
Up Next: Florida travels north to Toronto to try and sink the Maple Leafs. I mean hey, someone has to keep that playoff-less streak alive, right? Panthers at zee Leafs, Tuesday at 7.