It was an eventful couple of days for the Panthers prior to this game, as they recently dropped their fourth in a row in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild and lost the Southeast Division lead to the Winnipeg Jets. General Manager Dale Tallon filled the time in between games with two trades, acquiring Jerred Smithson and Wojtek Wolski as the deadline approached. Those trades would pay some immediate dividends, as Wolski would score the game-tying goal in the third and Smithson contributed all over the ice, helping the Panthers snap their losing streak with a big 3-2 shootout win. Stephen Weiss would score the winner in the shootout, and Florida netminder Jose Theodore was again fantastic and kept the Panthers in the game until the offensively-challenged Cats could beat Carolina goalie Justin Peters with two late goals in the final frame. This was a big win for Florida, who jumps back on top of the Southeast Division with the victory, and gives them a chance to widen the divisional lead if they can top the Montreal Canadiens Sunday at home. That's a big "if" for this team, but if the effort in this game was any indication, they'll be up to the task.
|Final - 2.25.2012||1||2||3||OT||SO||Total|
- Justin Faulk (7) PP 18:01, assists to Eric Staal and Jerome Samson
- Jussi Jokinen (9) 17:32, assist to Jeff Skinner
- Tomas Fleischmann (20) 13:58, assists to Kris Versteeg and Keaton Ellerby
- Wojtek Wolski (1) 18:13, assists to Shawn Matthias and Jason Garrison
- No scoring (but dammit 3-on-3 in OT is some seriously exciting stuff)Shootout
- Jokinen shoots wide
- Mikael Samuelsson goes high on Peters and scores
- Skinner lasers a wrister past Theodore and scores
- Wolski tries to stretch Peters across the crease and misses wide
- Jiri Tlusty stoned by Theodore's right pad
- Weiss barely beats Peters five-hole and wins it for Florida
- Theodore kept this game within reach yet again. His saves on a Staal breakaway in the third were absolutely huge and he gave the team a chance to score the two late goals to send it to overtime. Can't say enough about his play as of late. If he had any goal support he'd have three wins under his girdle.
- I'm not really sure when a big part of the Panthers gameplan included dumping and chasing, but they need to move away from it. Kevin Dineen has preached about playing a puck possession game, and the Panthers have clearly gotten away from that. At the beginning of the season the Cats would use their speed to carry into the offensive zone and generate chances, and now there's just lazy dumps with a single forechecker. That's not gonna cut it and you're not gonna score goals that way either. The puck possession seems to be gone.
- The penalty on Krys Barch in the first was a crappy call. Skinner got to work out his acting chops on that one. What makes it worse is that the officials missed a clear cross check by Jay Harrison on Kris Versteeg earlier in the period. Then in the second, Erik Gudbranson was called for basically shoving a Carolina player off of him, which looked pretty harmless except for the fact that Gudbranson was a foot taller than his opponent. Several bad calls on the Cats in this one.
- The Cats fell asleep in the second period, giving Carolina several golden chances, a couple of which caromed off the iron. Theodore had to be sharp as the Panthers started slipping into their now all-too-familiar coma where they forget how to play defensive hockey. Florida had some decent chances of their own, but again didn't score and let up a late goal in the second to Jokinen.
- After seeing a lot of chemistry earlier in the year, it looks like that is all gone now. Other than one or two players on each line occasionally hooking up for a nice setup, the Panthers seem to have almost no chemistry anymore, especially offensively. Hopefully another season with mostly the same lineup and coaching staff will fix that.
- Nice pass by Versteeg on the Fleischmann goal. The play happened because the Panthers possessed the puck in the offensive zone for longer than four seconds. They should try that more often.
- Not to keep harping on the Cats and their play, but meh... that's why you're reading, right? There were a lot of rebounds by Carolina netminder Justin Peters and not a single Panther could find one and slam it home. Guys are overskating the net, turning their backs on the puck too often, or simply watching and not skating to get in a better position.
- Florida has maybe two players that are as innately talented as Skinner is with the puck. They need to pick up another player or two like that to inject some offensive talent into their lineup. Not gonna happen this year, most likely.
- The more I watch him grow and mature out on the ice, the more I like Gudbranson. He's captain material and I wouldn't be shocked to see him earn the "C" in the next couple of years.
- Atta boy Weiss. You needed that more than anyone.
The grinders: Jerred Smithson, Jack Skille, Shawn Matthias. These were the only guys constantly moving their feet and working hard every shift, doing the dirty work to generate chances. Props to Wolski as well, scoring a big game-tying goal in his first game as a Panther.
The scorers. I'd name some names but I don't know who on this team is a scorer anymore. Fleischmann's goal was nice, but one goal simply isn't enough from your big guns. Gonna need a lot more down the stretch.
Ole, ole ole ole.... that's right, it's Habs in the Heat time. The Montreal Canadiens are coming to Sunrise as the Panthers play their final home game before a short two-game road trip. The Habs are one of the worst teams in the East, but are playing better hockey than the Panthers as of late, so it should at least be entertaining in some fashion. It will be the last Panther game before the trade deadline, so stay tuned here for news and analysis on any possible upcoming deals.