The Panthers received an early start to this game in two different ways, as it began at 3:00 in the afternoon, and Scottie Upshall gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead 1:17 into the first period on a fluke goal scored from behind the net; rookie blueliner Aaron Ekblad would pick up the lone assist. The remainder of the opening frame would be scoreless, though each team found themselves a man short on occasion, with Curtis Glencross going to the box for interference at 8:21, and Upshall (surprised?) taking a seat at 12:40 for holding.
The second period continued the trend of back and forth action, though the long change really took it's toll on the two teams and a total of six goals were netted in the frame. Nick Bjugstad would open the scoring with his second goal in as many games at 4:06 into the second frame, with assists coming from Willie Mitchell and Dmitry Kulikov. The Flames would answer 33 seconds later, as David Jones netted a loose puck in front of the net. Johnny Gaudreau picked up his eighth assist of the season, and Deryk Engelland got credit for the second assist. It took the Panthers all but three minutes to answer, as Scottie Upshall found himself wide open in front of the net after Vincent Trocheck tipped a Dmitry Kulikov shot.
The recent stretch of questionable refereeing would continue later in the frame, as Mark Giordano scored a shorthanded goal after Al Montoya was knocked to the ice by Lance Bouma. Bouma would pick up an assist, as did Paul Byron. Kulikov went down awkwardly on the play, and would not return to the game. Jiri Hudler would tie the game at 3-3 after picking up a rebound off of a Curtis Glencross shot and lifting it over Al Montoya's shoulder. Markus Granlund was credited with the second assist on the goal. The final tally of a somewhat chaotic second was netted 35 seconds later, when Jimmy Hayes tipped an Upshall shot up and over Karri Ramo; Ekblad picked up an assist on the goal that was originally accredited to Uppy. Ramo was pulled after Hayes' theatrics and Jonas Hiller would remain in Calgary's net for the rest of the evening.
The third period wasn't played poorly, but a trio of goals from the Flames would ice the cake and lead to their eventual 6-4 victory. Gaudreau fed Sean Monahan directly in front of the net, and Monahan wasted no time depositing the puck behind Monty. Despite getting chances, the Cats couldn't find the net behind a determined Hiller, and Lance Bouma would would but the puck past Montoya at 17:42 after being left open in the high slot. Jiri Hudler and Giordano picked up the assists. For yet another game, the zebras played a controversial role, as Jussi Jokinen was questionably called for embellishment at 18:32 of the third period. The Cats were forced to pull their goalie, and at 5 on 5 play, Johnny Gaudreau would slide the puck into the empty net at 18:55 of the period; Monahan picked up the lone assist on the goal.
Odds and Ends
- Rocco Grimaldi wasn't as impressive in this game as he was in the previous three (admittedly the only NHL appearances of his career), but he was still one of the best Panther players on the ice. I tend to feel he's got a real chance to stay up on the team, especially with Tomas Fleischmann being a healthy scratch, at least Saturday.
- Al Montoya really let the rest of the team down tonight, with only 20 saves on 25 shots. Not the best performance from a former first round draft pick in his first home start.
- Vincent Trocheck, Scottie Upshall, and Jimmy Hayes were a dominant line for the Panthers. The trio combined for three of Florida's four goals.
- Aaron Ekblad had his first multi-point NHL game, assisting on Upshall's first period goal, and Hayes's second period marker.
- The power play continues to be dismal, but there were certain signs of improvement this time out. It's reassuring to see players like Trocheck (for his speed) and Hayes (gargantuan size) out on the man advantage, at least.
- Nick Bjugstad looked really good on the penalty kill, and probably could have had a short handed goal. The Cats might want to look into using him there more often.
- Let's hope Kulikov's injury isn't serious. He's been one of the best players for the Panthers this season, and the defensive pairings for Gallant haven't needed change. Kulikov missing multiple games could throw a wrench into an otherwise generally efficient backend.
- Johnny Gaudreau is good at hockey.
- So is Mark Giordano. Each had a 3-point night.
- Head over to Matchsticks and Gasoline for the "enemy" perspective.
- Finally, captain Mitchell was not pleased with the outcome (via Jameson Olive/Fox Sports Florida):