Photo: Jerome Miron /USA TODAY Sports
looked fantastic tonight as he led the Panthers
to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche
. Tim Thomas hasn't had a great season so far, but he has looked fantastic in two of his last 3 starts. Thomas played very well against an Anaheim team that was 15-4-1 coming into the game. Thomas then looked uninspiring against Minnesota, giving up 3 goals, with only 17 saves. Tonight though, Thomas bounced back again, only letting up one goal on 33 shots faced. Thomas made some jaw-dropping saves, and if he can stay healthy, he should be able to get more adapted to the game after missing all of last season, as he took a break to be with family. Looking ahead, if the Panthers want to be in contention, Thomas will have to play at a relatively high level on a consistent basis.
Tim Thomas wasn't the only member of the Panthers who impressed tonight. The Panthers looked very solid defensively, as they did something that helped Thomas to look so good tonight, and this was not allowing too many rebounds. Scoring off rebounds is a very common thing in the NHL, and one of the hardest things for a goalie to defend, but tonight the Panthers collapsed on the net after a shot, and focused a lot of effort on getting the puck away from the net after Colorado would fire one on Thomas. They did this very well tonight, and this allowed Thomas to be able to stop the pucks, and not allow uncontested shots.
Offensively the Panthers looked good; they fired 28 shots on goal in the first two periods, and then it seemed like they stayed back and played more defense in the third period, in an attempt to secure the lead, and secure their 5th win of this young season. Like I said earlier, the Panthers netted 4 goals on the night, to tie for their second highest point total in a game this season. In the first period, Brad Boyes
netted his 7th goal of the season. He looks to be a very good signing for the Panthers, after some had suspected his good season last season was somewhat of a fluke, and was only because he played on the same line as John Tavares
and Matt Moulson
in New York. In the second period, Brian Campbell
added his third goal of the season on a power play, and Tomas Kopecky
scored his second goal this year, on a nice move that confused goaltender, Semyon Varlamov
. In the third period, Huberdeau all but sealed the game with a nice rebound shot, as he netted his 5th goal this year, and scored the 4th goal for the Panthers, giving them a 4-1 lead. Hopefully Huberdeau is back on track, having scored two goals in the Panthers last two games, with at least one point in 6 of his last 8. Tom Gilbert
should also be commended, as he had probably his best game of the season tonight, assisting on 3 of the Panthers 4 goals.
Now, it's likely the Panthers will still struggle at times this year, but if they can play a full 60 minutes of tough hockey, can consistent goaltending for Thomas, a good number of shots on goal, solid play from the forwards that we know can perform, and limit the rebounds, who knows what this team can do.