First off: huge props to Scott Clemmensen and the entire Florida lineup - especially the defense - on a terrific road victory against a rather desperate Bruins squad. No need for Boston to fear a loss in the standings, however, as the equally pathetic Flyers turned in a lame-duck effort against the Islanders. Keith Ballard's seventh of the season launched the only puck to find the back of any net, allowing for Clemmer's efforts to stand tall.
So other than hitting the prized 74 point plateau, where does this leave the Cats? More after the jump...
In one of those bizarre NHL-Only twists, the three stars of the game were Clemmer (duh), Dennis Wideman (0 points, 2 sog, even), and Patrice Bergeron (0 points, 3 sog, -1). Neither Ballard's game-winning goal (+1), nor assists from Jason Garrison and Cory Stillman were worthy enough to garner recognition. Must make perfect sense somewhere; evidently scoring isn't everything. If only that were indeed the league's policy throughout the year.
In a nutshell, the Panthers looked phenomenal this evening; many nights throughout the season it's hard to distinguish the Cats playing well versus their opposition not showing up, but it was all Florida tonight. Coach Pete had 'em focused during a tough period of pain and doubt, and his guidance paid dividends.
Jeff Taffe and Dmitry Kulikov led Florida in SOG with three apiece. Yeah, read that again.
In the all-important Trade Deadline Deathmatch, Byron Bitz (DNP - injury) topped Mr. Second-Rounder Dennis Seidenberg (-1, 0 shots). But we still love him. A lot. Really.
So in the end, Clemmer stopped 36 while Tuukka Rask - major when necessary, though lacking sorely in support - put the halt on 19.
For those firmly planted in the Lottery Camp, there was some positive news: Toronto doubled up on Buffalo, Carolina gained a point in Ottawa after blowing a lead with nine seconds remaining in regulation (thereby continuing their longstanding tradition of doing no favors for Whalers faithful), and the aforementioned Islanders worked a freaking miracle on Philadelphia.
Next up: Da Rangahs on Saturday.