Knowing the Florida Panthers affinity for digging themselves into early holes, the 2-0 score favoring the Ottawa Senators after the first period should not have come as a surprise. The four goal comeback that led the Panthers to victory should not have been surprising; what should have been surprising is that the Panthers finally shed the monkey off their backs and beat the Senators for the first time in nine games, stretching all the way back to 2009. And not only did Florida beat the Sens in spectacular fashion, but they kept the big four of Spezza, Alfredsson, Michalek and Karlsson off the scoresheet.
There are plenty of positives the Panthers can take from the 4-2 victory. As the season closes and the divisional race suddenly becomes frantic, the Panthers had to look past the freak-of-chance losing streak against a team that had their number. Not long ago the Panthers had to do the same thing, that time the target was Los Angeles. At some point during the game head coach Kevin Dineen had to sit down with his boys and refocus their attack, and the outcome reinforced the Panthers position as first in the division.
-13:23 Jared Cowen(5) unassisted
-18:32 Chris Neil(11) assist to Jim O'Brein
-18:34 Jack Skille(4) assist to Shawn Matthias
- Erik Gudbranson would be scratched for the second time this year against Ottawa, this time with a bag skate beforehand. Before you whine and cry about how Keaton Ellerby and Ed Jovanovski deserve it more, understand that Gudbranson is a rookie defenseman and rookie defensemen are not perfect. Guds hasn't been horrible lately, but like the rest of the defense, he hasn't been great. It's a learning curve, and that's part of the rite of passage as a rookie--to take what the coach gives you.
- Marco Sturm and John Madden would also be scratched, this time it's not as likely that they're recovering from injury or have found themselves on the bad-list as much as the fact they're not very good.
- I'm going to miss the JetBlues, they just look so damn sharp.
- Erik Karlsson is the best defenseman in the league. There, I said it. Besides putting up better numbers than most forwards, Karlsson has only made a handful of defensive mistakes this season and he's only 21. The guy is incredible.
- What is it about Sean Bergenheim, it's not like the refs are unfairly targeting the guy, all I want to know is why he takes so many penalties in the first place. Does the NHL not have a Finnish translation of the rulebook?
- The first period showcased a Panthers team that looked absolutely horrible, the forwards and defensemen had absolutely no communication amongst themselves and between each other. The second Senators goal was a complete breakdown with 5 Panthers collapsing on the same three Senators, and yet they still couldn't overwhelm them enough to get control of the puck. Textbook peewee hockey play, right there.
- It's no wonder the Panthers haven't beat the Senators in two years, the teams are exact opposites. Ottawa is one of the youngest teams with promising rookies in all three positions. Florida is scraping by with a lot players past their glory days and few young players. In the next five years, the tables may turn as Florida's prospect base produces and Ottawa's young players grow older, but for now Ottawa should be the posterboy for Tallon.
- Marcel Goc would deflect a shot from the point over Robin Lehner, then less than two minutes later the most unlikely scorer ever (Barch) would pull of some magic deke-ing the crap out of the young goalie to even up the game. A little #LehndecentExposure in Sunrise as Lehner had to fish his jock strap out of the lower bowl.
- With Ed Jovanovski receiving a horrid high stick to the face as Chris Neil tried to bat the puck out of the air, the Panthers would be rewarded with a four minute powerplay. It wouldn't be too long to make 'em pay, Stephen Weiss would send a perfect pass to a streaking Samuelsson for a tap-in past Lehner.
- With the second period wrapping up, the Panthers looked eons better than they had just twenty minutes ago. Do we really need to guess what Kevin Dineen had to say during the intermission?
- Despite the fact the Panthers might not be playing golf until a little later this summer, the club still insists on raffling off a customized golfcart. Come on.
- Jovo would return later in the game. A true warrior, that wise old Ed.
- Bergenheim has taken two bad slashes on the wrist in two games, one from one of the Kostitsyns last night and now one from Karlsson. Karlsson had a good reason to, as Bergy came across and sent a knee-to-knee hit Karlsson barely avoided. Anyhow, both would go uninjured.
- To put the finishing touches on a night of secondary scoring, Jack Skille would drive the net and sink one past Lehner on a partial breakaway. Skillz.
Chris' First Star: Mike Weaver. Just let me have my day.
Chris' Worst Star: After two glorious periods and a four goal comeback in which my usual punching bags Kopecky and Barch both contributed, let's just say it was a team win. Everyone pulled together for the win.
Up Next: A pretty important matchup with the Flyers in Philly as the Panthers look to start another winning streak. Florida faces the Flyers twice in this final month of hockey, and a win on Thursday would be a good way to set the tempo.