After a dominating performance on Saturday, the Florida Panthers have taken 2 of 3 on the Western Conference road trip with a shootout win against the Vancouver Canucks. The game certainly could have gone better for Florida with the Nucks taking control in the later half of the game, but once again resiliency forced Florida a point with Thomas and Huberdeau earning the other in the skills competition. As it stands, Florida has now won 3 of 4 against tough Western Conference teams and heads into Alberta with a legitimate chance to return home with a four-game winning streak.
- Careful observers will note that the Canucks have a whole lot of former Panthers on their roster, including recent Cats Mike Santorelli, Jason Garrison and David Booth. Garrison has produced moderately well (contract expectations aside) and Santorelli has revived his career with the Nucks. The big dud for Vancouver has been David Booth, who has scored only 18 goals since the Panthers traded him. Booth has been scratched often, and was even assigned to the AHL for a conditioning stint. Tallon's trades have been hit-and-miss, but trading Booth was akin to dodging a huge bullet.
- Something I've been impressed with since Horachek took over is the turnaround on the Panthers transition game. With Dineen, getting a clean breakout was like pulling teeth but under the Horachek regime the Cats are moving down ice with ease.
- Horachek seems like a very scary person to be coached by. He is the physical embodiment of the "speak softly and carry a big stick" ideology, as opposed to the cranky child demeanor Dineen used to sorta get his point across when convenient.
- Tonight was my first real look at Jimmy Hayes, and I'm content with what I'm seeing. Versteeg was lazy on the ice and a punk off it, and even if Hayes is the only immediate return in the trade I'm glad to be rid of a player who's only in it for himself. I'd like to see Hayes work his way up in the lines, but even during this meet-and-greet phase of his team involvement he has shown a willingness to carve out a spot and earn more playing time.
- Vancouver would even the game at 1 all when Erik Gudbranson got caught out of position and 4 Panthers got caught in front of the net providing the screen for Chris Higgins to net one. Old buddy Mike Santorelli would get the assist.
- Vancouver has been struggling offensively lately, but after tying the game they really seemed to limit the Panthers' chances and pick up more of their own. Florida really needs to learn how to respond to pressure in games when they haven't racked up a big lead.
- Vancouver would take the lead when Jannik Hansen picked off a bad pass from Flash just 2:45 into the third period. Florida came out flat and paid for it, Vancouver meanwhile scored their first multi-goal game in 5 tries.
- Nick Bjugstad has become a really solid forward under new coaching, and set up Shawn Matthias on a one-timer to tie the game at 2, forcing overtime.
- Check out Nucks Misconduct for the Canucks viewpoint on tonight's action.
Next Up: Florida stays up in the Great White North of Canada but moves east to the province of Alberta to take on the Edmonton Oilers for the second time this season. Not long ago these teams squared off with the Cats falling in overtime to the Oil, led by now demoted Mark Arcobello. Florida at Edmonton, Thursday at 9:30.