Theodore's Heroics Assure a Point, Panthers Topped by Penguins in Shootout

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 9: Stephen Weiss #9 of the Florida Panthers and Ben Lovejoy #6 of the Pittsburgh Penguins battle for the puck during the game at Consol Energy Center on March 9, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

At this point in the season, you've got to take what you can get. After being completely destroyed in Philadelphia the night before, the Florida Panthers brought their A game to Pittsburgh and did what only one other team could do during their now nine game win streak; steal a point. You can complain about the shootout all you want, but the fact remains that Penguins simply had more skill then Florida did and therefore won the competition. But in the 65 minutes prior to that, with the help of lights-out Jose Theodore, the Panthers looked like an actual team instead of the mindless plugs we'd seen just 24 hours before. They kept the Penguins to just one goal while furiously hanging on at the end, something most other teams have been incapable of doing at Consol.

So take the point and run with it. With a similar effort and the now noticeably easier schedule in the near future one point should be a given during the next homestand. Kevin Dineen was able to rally his troops from defeat and march into Pittsburgh to assure another point for the playoff race. This should by no means be considered a disappointing shootout loss.

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Scoring Summary:

1st: No scoring

2nd:

-7:17 Tomas Fleischmann(21) assist to Wojtek Wolski

3rd:

-2:56 Steve Sullivan(14) assists to Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis

Overtime:

Nothing but heart attacks.

Shootout:

-James Neal GOAL

- Wojtek Wolski MISS

-Evgeni Malkin GOAL

-Mikael Samuelsson MISS

Observations:

  • So glad Pittsburgh decided to wear their regular home jerseys instead of one of many blue third jersey monstrosities they employ. But hey, our thirds are OK...
  • Keaton Ellerby, Jerred Smithson and Mike Santorelli would be sitting in favor of Tyson Strachan, John Madden and Marco Sturm, respectively. The first and third are washes, but I'm not sure what Madden brings over Smitty. Unless it's a maintenance day for Smithson, I'm not really 'getting' it.
  • Along those same lines, the lack of meaningful updates on Kris Versteeg are concerning at best.
  • Not a terrible first period for the Panthers as both teams would go scoreless. The Panthers didn't look nearly as trapped as they had just 24 hours before, which is always an improvement. The Penguins would have some chances of their own, but what wasn't stopped by the post was stopped by Jose Theodore.
  • Rammstein creeps ever closer. Gotta get those tickets before they sell out, Marcel.
  • I'll continue to say it, but the Panthers are a better team because of Jack Skille. Maybe he doen't score enough to be anything more than a 3rd-4th liner, but the energy and fearlessness he brings each and every night should be an inspiration for his somewhat catatonic teammates.
  • Maybe it's just my dislike of the Penguins, but I hypothesize the Pens will cool down once Sidney Crosby returns. After the initial glory that The Kid had returned, it seemed Crosby became a distraction for Pittsburgh, and it will continue if he returns on the eve of the playoffs. Just a theory.
  • Perhaps it was a set play or more likely a missed shot, but the Panthers would get on the board first as Wojtek Wolski's shot caromed off the boards behind the net and right on the waiting stick of Tomas Fleischmann on the opposite side for a tap in goal. Fun Fact: I scored my last ever goal in rec hockey on the exact same play. Mine was prettier, though.
  • You know you're playing an elite team when a 4-on-4 looks like a penalty kill. Pittsburgh is just that good.
  • Flash really needs to work on those breakaway chances. It makes you wonder, if he'd have sunk just one of his multiple chances in recent games would it reflect in the standings? The Winnipeg blowout could have been entirely avoided if he could have hit the inside of the post rather than the outside.
  • Steve Sullivan would tie up the game catching Erik Gudbranson high and barely sliding it through Theodore on the partial breakaway. One good Panthers shift later Krys Barch would negate whatever momentum that shift created with a absolutely stupid double minor high sticking call. Imagine walking up to the tee box and trying to drive a golfball with one arm and having the follow-through smack the caddy. Miraculously the penalty would be killed off.
  • Pascal Dupuis would almost have his 18th of the season after the puck danced on the goal line, the ref indicated a goal but after review it was overturned due to unclear evidence the puck ever crossed the line at all. I'm not sure what camera angle Toronto was looking at, because I was convinced it would revert to the call on the ice. Either way, the game would remain tied.
  • Skille would block a slapshot before the reviewed goal, it looked pretty painful and he certainly wasn't smiling afterwards. Luckily for the Panthers, Skille would return just a shift later. Then he'd get injured again. I'm not sure if he ever returned.
  • With one point secured, the Panthers would assure another night as the top team in the Southeast Division.

Chris' First Star: Outcome aside Jose Theodore was absolutely the best player on the ice at Consol tonight.

Chris' Worst Star: He wasn't terrible, but Tyson Strachan didn't look great. Other than that, the Panthers played a well balanced game keeping the Penguins to just one goal.

Up Next: Florida returns home to take on the Carolina Hurricanes, the first of three meetings in the last 15 games of the season. Yeah, those games are kinda important. Hurricanes at Panthers, Sunday at 5.

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