The Florida Panthers offense continued it's recent cold spell, but a quick strike from their hottest forward and some stingy goaltending from both of the club's netminders paved the way to a 1-0 Thanksgiving Eve victory over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.
It took sophomore sensation Nick Bjugstad all of twenty-one seconds to return to his lamp-lighting ways after having his four-game scoring streak ended by the Minnesota Wild on Monday.
Bjugstad knocked home a pass in front for his sixth goal in the last six games, and eighth of the season, to give the Panthers the early lead. Jonathan Huberdeau and new linemate Brandon Pirri combined for the assists on the pretty, triangular passing play.
After that, it was all about the men in net. Carolina keeper Cam Ward put on a first period show after giving up the game's lone goal, finishing the stanza with 14 saves to keep the Hurricanes in striking distance.
Roberto Luongo turned aside all 11 shots he faced, including an unbelievable sprawling glove stop on Victor Rask in the second period. Luongo left the game a few minutes after making the highlight-reel save, but it's believed his upper-body injury is not serious.
Al Montoya entered the game after that, and brought home the win home by fending off a 22-shot Carolina barrage over the final 29:38. The Hurricanes outshot the Panthers 17-5 in the third period, and Montoya had to be on top of his game to get the Cats a much-needed two points.
The win kept the Panthers above .500 (8-6-6) and pulled them within 3 points of Toronto, with two games in hand, for the second Eastern Conference wild card spot. Not the best of performances, but after two-straight losses the victory was most welcome. The Cats looked much better in the first period than they did in Nashville or against the Wild, and if they could of finished off some of their many opportunities, an easier night against the lowly Hurricanes would have been the likely outcome. They were fine for much of the second period, but as the game went on they allowed Carolina to turn the tables and carry the play.The Ottawa Senators are up next on Friday before Florida heads north for games against Columbus and Detroit.
Turkey & Giblets
- They didn't score, but the Killer B's line of Aleksander Barkov, Sean Bergenheim and Brad Boyes combined for 11 shots on goal. A big improvement of their performance against Minnesota.
- Speaking of scoring, getting the first goal is huge for the Panthers. Florida is now 7-1-4 when bagging the game's opening tally.
- Tough loss for Cam Ward, who ended up stopping 27 of 28 Panther shots in a fine, but wasted effort. The Hurricanes have now dropped six of their last seven games.
- The Cats penalty kill went a perfect 3 for 3 on the night. The PK has come a long way from the horror of last year and a rocky start to this season.
- Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk fired a game-high 6 shots on goal and was credited with two hits.
- In addition to his primary helper on the Bjugstad goal, his first assist of the season, Brandon Pirri had 3 shots and won 7 of 10 face-offs. A nice return to the lineup for the young forward.
- The Panthers continue to pick up points (4-4-2 in their last 10), but it's high time for an actual winning streak.
- Throw on some rain garb and head to Canes Country for the opposing view.
- And lastly, Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Have a great day and don't eat yourselves into too much of a stupor.