Comments / New

Recap: Cardiac Cats return as Panthers shock Bruins 4-3 in overtime

The ‘Cardiac Cats’ finally made an appearance in the Florida Panthers shocking 4-3 comeback win over the Boston Bruins at FLA Live Arena in the local team’s final game before the All-Star break.

After David Pastrnak came off the bench to score a long-range goal through traffic, from Matt Grzelcyk and David Krejci, with 49 seconds left in regulation, it looked the Panthers were heading to yet another frustrating defeat in a season filled with frustration.

Not so fast. The Cats pulled goaltender Alex Lyon and tied the game at 19:57 when Aleksander Barkov fired in a rebound after Matthew Tkachuk fed Aaron Ekblad and his attempt to get the puck towards the net was blocked by Brandon Carlo. Barkov’s wrister found its way past Patrice Bergeron and Jeremy Swayman to turn on the red light. Props to Sam Reinhart, Brandon Montour and Carter Verhaeghe, who bounced the puck off the boards to Tkachuk, for their hard work behind the net to keep hope afloat.

Florida opened overtime with its first line on the ice, no defenseman, won the faceoff and set off the other way. After taking a pass from Anton Lundell to gain the zone, Barkov tried to feed Reinhart, but hit him in the skates. As the captain regathered the puck and curled around to get on his forehand on the right side, Reinhart found open space in the top of the left circle. Samson readied his stick and Barkov sent a slightly diagonal cross over that Reinhart absolutely lasered into the top of the net. While the officials debated whether it was goal or not, a knowing Swayman immediately headed off the ice in defeat. Game over, man! Game over!

Going back in time, Boston opened the scoring thanks to an inexusable Montour turnover that allowed veteran Craig Smith to snipe an unprepared Lyon with 3:50 left in the first period. A really frustrating mistake that came 38 seconds after the Panthers killed off a double minor high-sticking on (who else?) Sam Bennett.

Montour would redeem himself 8:55 into the middle frame when Barkov decided to shoot on a 3-on-2 rush and the puck struck the defenseman’s stick as he was driving the net, fooling Swayman. I’m not sure if Montour meant to deflect the puck with his blade or not, but whatever the case, the fortuitous result gave him points in nine straight games, Barkov eleven games and Tkachuk six games. The goal was Montour’s tenth and Tkachuk’s assist was his 40th.

Charlie Coyle gave the Bruins the lead back at 17:55 when his centering pass from right boards was batted out of the air and into his own net by Bennett. While I appreciate the effort, sometimes it’s better to let the puck go rather than trying to an unnecessary play with a high-degree of difficulty as this pass wasn’t close to finding its intended target.

Like Montour, Bennett would find redemption with a goal that knotted the score 8:29 into the final frame. After taking a pass from Radko Gudas in his own zone, a determined Bennett lugged the puck the other way and solved Swayman with a wrister from just above the right circle.

Florida, wearing it’s vibrant Reverse Retro jerseys for the final time, became the second team in NHL history to fall behind and tie the game in the final minute of regulation before winning in the first minute of overtime, joining the Hartford Whalers, who did it on December 7, 1990, against the Buffalo Sabres. The exciting victory pulled the Panthers within three points of the Pittsburgh Penguins and put them four points back of the Washington Capitals. Sure, there are games in hand involved, but hopefully, going into the break on a high note provides the Cats stretch run with a much-needed jolt of energy confidence.

Tea & Honey

  • As mentioned above Aleksander Barkov, who finished with a goal and two assists, extended his point streak to a 11 games, a new career-high. His assist on the game-winner was his 600th NHL point (234G/366A) and came in his 638 game, He joined Jonathan Huberdeau as the only players in Panthers history to reach the milestone.
  • Hats off to First Star Alex Lyon who made his fifth straight start and finished with 38 saves to collect his third win. While he certainly had some shaky moments, Lyon’s 3-2-1 run in the net with Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight both out is something to be applauded.
  • The Bruins went 0-for-4 on the power play after they were 0-for-2 against Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Panthers went 0-for-1 after going 0-for-5 against Los Angeles on Friday.
  • In addition to his late goal, David Pastrnak registered a game-high seven shots and two hits. Jeremey Swayman stopped 33 of 37 shots for the league-leaders.
  • The Cats will resume its five-game homestand when they host the Lightning on Monday, February 6.
  • Florida is the first team to beat the Bruins this season following a prior Boton loss and they joined Ottawa as the only teams to beat the league’s top club twice thus far. Read more about these doings at Stanley Cup of Chowder./

Talking Points