The Florida Panthers brought all the warts with them to Toronto bubble. Sergei Bobrovsky was pretty bad, Mike Matheson might have been worse (in the seemingly unending chicken and egg debate whether its the goaltending or defense that’s the team’s main issue) and the rest of the club put up little fight and displayed a disturbing lack of intensity in a 5-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in its one and only exhibition tune-up before postseason play starts on Saturday.
Florida was pretty decent in the first period, but once Brayden Point sped around Matheson and beat Bobrovsky, who made himself very small and backed into the net, up high with five seconds left for his second goal of the frame, they were in deep trouble.
Nikita Kucherov ripped a shot past Bobrovsky 1:53 into the second with the Bolts on a power play to essentially end it very early.
A wide-open Luke Schenn took a pass from Ondrej Palat and made it 4-0 with a wrister that a screened Bobrovsky had no chance on 3:20 later.
Kucherov would tack on another midway though the third period from Point and Palat to complete the scoring.
That line combined for a whopping ten points (no rust there) with Point producing two goals and two assists, Kucherov two goals and an assist and Palat totaling three helpers.
Point opened the scoring with 6:18 left in the opening period after a ill-advised back pass by Lucas Wallmark put the puck right on Kucherov’s blade in the corner and he found Palat in front, who dished off to Point, who shoveled a backhander over Bobrovsky.
Andrei Vasilevskiy went the distance and stopped 26 saves for the shutout.
The Panthers best chances came on breakaways by Aleksander Barkov and Erik Haula that were easily foiled by the big Lightning keeper.
Bobrovsky also played the whole game and finished with 29 saves. Coach Joel Quenneville probably should have gotten backup Chris Driedger some work because I think there is a pretty good chance he’ll be needed in the upcoming days.
Defenseman Keith Yandle led the Cats with six shots on goal and rookie blueliner Brady Keeper, who was only in the lineup because Aaron Ekblad and MacKenzie Weegar weren’t, was also noticeable on the ice. Much of the rest of Florida’s roster simply wasn’t and that is not a good sign heading into Saturday’s Game 1 against the New York Islanders.
If they Panthers can’t quickly come together and put together a better effort starting this weekend, one gets the sense the team will be back in South Florida before you know it.
- Colorado Avalanche 3, Minnesota Wild 2 Recap
- Washington Capitals 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2 Recap
- Chicago Blackhawks 4, St. Louis Blues 0 Recap
- New York Islanders 2, New York Rangers 1 Recap
- Winnipeg Jets 4, Vancouver Canucks 1 Recap
Today’s Exhibition Games