Don't be fooled by the final score, if not for Roberto Luongo, who finished with 21 saves, this game would have been a complete laugher and over after the first twenty minutes.
The Canucks outshot Florida 13-6 in the opening period, scored twice and could have easily had three or four more goals if not for Florida's stingy veteran netminder.
Radim Vrbata potted the first Vancouver goal at the 3:25 mark. After Henrik Sedin beat Dave Bolland on a faceoff, brother Daniel sent a beautiful pass to Vrbata who beat Luongo for his eighteenth of the season.Wonder Twins power activated.
Vancouver went up by two when rookie Bo Horvat cashed in a 2-on-1 break after fellow freshman Aaron Ekblad got caught out of position. Luongo stopped the initial shot, but the puck slowly dribbled it's way past the goal line.
Although the Canucks smelled blood and kept on coming, Luongo was able to hold the shaky Cats together. His best was a sparkling glove save on former Panther Chris Higgins' shorthanded breakaway bid with less than two minutes to go in the frame.
An evenly played second saw no additional goals scored and the third period belonged to Ryan Miller. The Panthers dominated the final frame, outshooting the Canucks by a 10-1 margin, but Miller made nice stops on Tomas Fleischmann, Brian Campbell, Brad Boyes and Nick Bjugstad to keep a clean sheet.
Brandon Pirri finally got the Cats on the board with 2:32 remaining. Bolland won a offensive zone draw directly to Pirri and he whipped it past Miller, breaking the goalie's impressive 200:45 shutout streak.
Unfortunately, the Panthers would fail to come up with the equalizer and now head to the All-Star break with just one point, a shootout loss to Edmonton, in their last four games. Luongo and Ekblad (skills competition) will participate in this weekend's festivities in Columbus.
Dribs and Drabs
- The Panthers dominated the faceoff circle and outhit the Canucks 30-18, but you've got to score to win. On that note, the team's 29th-ranked power play has clicked just once in its last 23 opportunities.
- Vancouver won for the fifteenth time on the road this season, tops in the Western Conference.
- Nick Bjugstad led the Cats with five shots on goal and five hits. The towering center was one of a few Panthers that came to play from the get go last night.
- Brandon Pirri's goal was his fourth of the year and first since the October 30th tilt against the Arizona Coyotes. Pirri had two shots on goal in 17:56 TOI and was one three Panthers to finish with a plus-rating. Dylan Olsen and Vincent Trocheck were the others.
- Ryan Miller finished the game with 23 stops and came close to posting his sixth shutout of the season. Pirri's late strike kept him one away from equaling his career-high.
- Florida killed off all three Vancouver power play opportunities. The club's PK is tied with Boston for 14th-best in the NHL.
- For more on the Panthers latest defeat, visit Nucks Misconduct.