Just over a week into their existence, the brand-new Florida Panthers (1-2-1) would play in the second game of a five game homestand. They would welcome the 0-1-1 Ottawa Senators (with one season more experience but only 10 all-time wins to their credit), to Miami Arena. Here's the recap, as printed in the Ocala Star-Banner:
Rookie Rob Niedermayer's first NHL goal early in the third period boosted the Florida Panthers to a 5-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators Thursday night.
The first-year Panthers recorded the first home victory in franchise history, set a team mark with the five goals, and evened their season's record at 2-2-1.
Ottawa, which began play a year ago, remained winless in three games (0-2-1).
Niedermayer scored at 5:41 of the third period when he took a centering pass from Dave Lowry and one-timed it past Ottawa goalie Craig Billington.
Scott Levins scored twice for Florida, while Bill Lindsay and Tom Fitzgerald also tallied.
Rookie Alexandre Daigle, the first overall pick in the 1993 draft, had a goal and an assist for Ottawa, which scored all its goals in the second period. Darren Rumble, Alexei Yashin, and Bob Kudelski also scored for the Senators.
After Florida took a 2-0 lead in the first period, Rumble got Ottawa on the board with the first of six goals in the period. Rumble's slapshot from outside the faceoff dot gave Ottawa its first goal and cut the Florida lead to 2-1.
Levins gave Florida another two-goal lead when he scored on a rebound at 7:04.
Ottawa then scored twice in 26 seconds to knot the game. Yashin got his own rebound and beat John Vanbiesbrouck with a screen shot just inside the goal post. Then Daigle tipped in a pass from Dave Archibald for his third goal of the season.
The Senators took their first lead when Kudelski scored on a power play. Kudelski took a pass from Daigle behind the net, brought the puck in front and beat Vanbiesbrouck to the short side.
The Panthers tied the score when Levins, on a power play, took the loose puck in front of the Ottawa net, spun around and slid a shot past Billington.
The Senators would complete their three game road trip two nights later with a 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts would travel to Miami to face the Panthers on October 17th in Florida's next matchup.
The 3-1-1 Panthers and the 1-3-0 Lightning had played the previous night to a 3-2 Florida home victory. For an encore, the two traveled north for a rematch in Tampa Bay. Here's an excerpt from the NHL.COM recap:
Tampa Bay (2-3-0) had scored six goals in the first four games of the season.
The Lightning, who entered the game 1-for-26 with the man advantage, converted two of six power-play chances. Ruslan Fedotenko and Dmitry Afanasenkov had the other Tampa Bay goals, while Marc Denis stopped 23 shots.
Stephen Weiss tallied the lone Florida marker with assists from Mike Van Ryn and Jozef Stumpel. Future Hall-of-Famer Ed Belfour allowed four goals on 36 shots for the loss. Panthers captain Olli Jokinen was apologetic afterward:
"It shouldn't happen," Florida center Olli Jokinen said. "We should be ready for our next shift. But overall, we didn't get enough shots and we didn't do little things right."
The 0-2-0 Panthers, after opening the season with road losses to the Edmonton Oilers (3-2) and the Vancouver Canucks (2-1) would conclude their three game road trip with the 1-1-0 Calgary Flames. NHL.COM has the recap:
Dvorak scored two quick first-period goals and Vokoun made 27 saves to continue his career-long dominance of Calgary as the Panthers wrapped up a three-game swing through Western Canada by beating the Flames 3-0 on Thursday night for their first victory.
The Panthers, who struggled to score in their first two games, a 3-2 loss at Edmonton and a 2-1 defeat at Calgary, got the jump on the Flames when Dvorak picked up a rebound, spun in the slot and whipped it past Miikka Kiprusoff just 4:20 into the game.
Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun spoke after the game:
"This is my fourth year in Florida and this is one of the best games I've seen us play," said Vokoun, who faced only 10 shots in the first two periods. "We were playing exactly how we wanted and it was a great effort from everybody."
Shawn Matthias tacked one on for the Cats, while Marty Reasoner added two assists. T-Vo stopped all 27 shots for his 38th career shutout. Here' Donny's game notes:
Calgary was never involved in this one, thanks to - among other issues - Florida's improving cohesion, resulting in 27 saves by goaltender Tomas Vokoun and an unexpected offensive explosion by veteran Radek Dvorak early in the first period. Shawn Matthias sealed it up for the Cats with an insurance goal at the halfway mark of the third. Need more? The "D" was spectacular all evening; not only amongst those in the position, but as a collective club striving for adhesion. This may well have been the finest example by Florida of an "all-in" effort since the Skrudland days: every member of the roster played to the extent of their abilities while reaching to prevent what may have been that final - and accurate - shot against. Panthers are only three games in, but it's been a nice ride so far. Dvorak: 2g...on two shots. Matthias: one goal on two shots. Assist leader: Marty Reasoner had two, keeping the veteran ensconced as the club's leader in points (4). D Dennis Wideman was again the club leader in TOI with 24:04; CGY's Jay Bouwmeester tallied 25:46 with no points and a minus-one. Flames' Mikka Kiprusoff stopped 15 of 18 shots. Kenndal McArdle played 6:54, with no shots. For those that care, Olli Jokinen ended the night with zero points and a minus-1.
Panthers @ Flames 10/14/10 (via NHLVideo)
Florida holds a 2-1-0 all-time record on this date through history. Make sure to keep coming back for all of your Florida Panthers lockout free needs, here at Litter Box Cats.