Well it looks like my prediction was wrong, the Panthers won't end the season on a 9 game losing streak. With a hard fought 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers, the Panthers retain their coveted 30th place standing while doling out a measure of revenge on the Rangers, who needed a win to lock up a playoff spot. With three games left and a 5 point cushion on the best lottery odds, the Cats had a little breathing room to play spoiler if they were up to the task. Whether it was the Panthers busting through a slump or the Rangers blindly walking into a textbook trap game, Florida was indeed up to the task thanks to a .947 save percentage from Jacob Markstrom and a shorthanded empty netter from Drew Shore.
A nice late season win for the home fans who've suffered through an absolutely horrid season.
- Jonathan Huberdeau - I think Hubs is realizing that sitting back on his point totals built up in February isn't going to win any shiny trophies, because he was all over the ice in both zones. I think it's doubtful he puts up more than 1-2 points before the season ends, so a little defense to help out his Calder resume gets a thumbs up by me. Big effort on the Fleischmann goal, though he wouldn't record a point for the set up.
- Jack Skille - Fourth line TOI, not much to say. It certainly feels like Skille is getting phased out of the lineup for good.
- Tomas Fleischmann - Flash has been wearing the A lately, and he looks like he enjoys it. Flash is working hard out there to get open, a lot of hustle and willingness to to cover his man in the defensive zone. Tipped in Kuba's point shot for a goal and recorded his 23rd assist of the season on the Cats second goal.
- Shore - Shoresy wasn't playing center tonight with Matty taking the honor on the third line. I like what he brought to that line, and he was finally able to break that pesky goal drought with an empty netter on the penalty kill. Well deserved.
- Shawn Matthias - One dangerous shot in the third period which Lundqvist was able to save. Matty simply doesn't have the finishing ability he had before the trade deadline.
- Scottie Upshall - Invisible.
- George Parros - Fought Arron Asham, who I've seen absolutely destroy a couple players in his fights. So the fight, though worthless, was evenly matched and ended up as a draw. So I guess that's a good nigt by Parros standards.
- Nick Bjugstad - Probably Jugs' best game with the Panthers, finally started to hold possession of the puck in meaningful situations. Bjugstad has improved on the dot the last few games as well.
- Marcel Goc - Very quiet game until deflecting a Flash shot-pass, clocked in some big time on the penalty kill.
- Scott Timmins- Timmy had a good start, took a penalty and afterwards didn't receive a lot of ice time. He is what he is, an AHL call up.
- Tomas Kopecky - Didn't play last game, and you could tell. Kopy looked a few steps behind his opposition tonight, he could probably use a rest with the season coming to the end. He wore the microphone for the sounds of the game segment, and when he wasn't being a bench coach, he was panting through his shifts.
- Peter Mueller - Back from his BabyWatch, I thought he had a few good moves and helped out defensively. The number 88 stuck out tonight, though couldn't get on the scoresheet.
- TJ Brennan - Another tough game, he's definitely been the trailing defenseman in a lot of situations. Drew a huge powerplay to set the stage for Goc's goal.
- Filip Kuba - Better than last game, but that isn't saying a whole lot. He wasn't bad, in fact he actually scored a goal from the point. Ok well, it was tipped. But who's keeping track?
- Mike Weaver - The population of Weaverville is 9. He had his moments here and there, nobody was pushing Weavs around tonight.
- Colby Robak - I liked Robak, he looked pretty solid to start out his second stint of the season with Florida. Hit the pipe early with a bomb and played solidly afterwards.
- Brian Campbell - An assist for Campbell, but not much to say for him otherwise. Like Kopecky, Soupy could probably use a rest.
- Alex Petrovic- I'm not sure what to think about Petrovic, he's been fine so far but his tendency to pinch in so often seems like a recipe for disaster in the future. So far he's added offensive pressure effectively and has been able to keep risk to the minimum, if he can keep it up then great; but if not he'll have to revert back to the defense-first defenseman this team seriously needs.
- Jacob Markstrom - Pretty dang good game for Marky, with the 's' word thrown around far too much during the second intermission it was only a matter of time before the Rangers would put one into the back of the net. Marky has played his best games against the Rags this season.
More coverage from the Rangers' side of the evening at Blueshirt Banter here. Only one home game left folks, as the Panthers close out at BB&T against the Maple Leafs on Thursday. Though of course, 'home game' is a relative term, as this will be the first time the Leafs visit South Florida en route to the playoffs (instead of the golf course) in what can best be described as...forever. Don't miss a minute of action, Leafs at Cats, 7:30.