Panthers' first line, defense roll over Stars for another road win
After a difficult home loss in the game before, changes were certainly made in preparation for tonight's game against Dallas. Despite the Stars holding one of the highest point totals in the Western Conference, you wouldn't know it as the Florida Panthers completely dominated play from start to finish netting six goals against one of the league's top goaltenders. The Panthers are really a tale of 30 cities; playing sluggish at home but electric everywhere else, and while losing a tough one to an elite team at home hurts, shutting down another elite team on the road speaks volumes about this group of players. Just think; with some consistancy at home, where might the Panthers sit in the standings tomorrow? For now, tied for first in the Southeast sits just fine with me.
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1st: With Scott Clemmensen making his first appearance of the season coming off a knee injury, the road savvy Panthers started quickly with a few rushes from the lower lines. Without Jack Skille in the lineup, Evgeni Dadonov would produce the spark for the 3rd line, Tim Kennedy was also filling in a spot for the injured Scottie Upshall. Tomas Fleischmann would miss a big rebound off the chest of Kari Lehtonen, but the Panthers would maintain pressure in the Dallas zone. At times it seemed Florida was on the powerplay judging from the long shifts for the Dallas defenders, but Lehtonen would take every opportunity to smother the puck when he had the chance. Sheldon Souray would crosscheck Mike Santorelli in front of the crease to give the Cats a powerplay midway through the period, but the Florida powerplay unit wouldn't send much towards Lehtonen. A few minutes later (and a few huge chances for Florida) they'd be back on the powerplay with Toby Petersen in the box for tripping. Again, a good powerplay in the possession/cycling aspect, but Lehtonen wouldn't see much coming his way. With Adam Pardy down on the ice after a collision with Marcel Goc, Dmitry Kulikov would sneak in down low and sink his first goal of the season past Lehtonen (assists from Tomas Kopecky). Just a few minutes later, it would be the Panthers getting up on the board again, this time a bomb from the point from Jason Garrison (from Santorelli and Brian Campbell). The period would end there, with Florida on top 2-0.
2nd: A minute and a half into the period, Mark Fistric would receive an interference penalty, followed by a Krys Barch boarding penalty four minutes later. The two powerplays wouldn't result in any goals, but the dominating pressure from Florida would continue to wear down the Dallas defensemen. Sean Bergenheim and Brenden Morrow would take crosschecking penalties in a scrum between the two, leaving their teams 4-on-4 for two minutes. Tomas Fleischmann would take a beautiful feed from Stephen Weiss, split the defenders and roof one over the shoulder of Lehtonen to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead (assists from Weiss, Kris Versteeg). Immediately after, Bergenheim would dump a Dallas player along the boards earning his second penalty of the period, giving Dallas their first powerplay chance. With that penalty killed, Stephen Weiss would enjoy a beautiful pass from Versteeg and one-time the puck into an open net, from Versteeg and Flash. That would do it for the period, with Florida walking into the dressing rooms up 4-0.
3rd: Pace would slow down a bit as the third period began, but it was clear Florida was still very much in control of the game. Dallas would put some pucks on the net 5 minutes in, but a well rested Scott Clemmensen would have none of it. Halfway through the period, Ed Jovanovski would clear the garbage from in front of the net a bit too enthusiastically, crosschecking Barch multiple times in front of the net. With Jovo in the box, a good penalty killing effort from Goc and Bergenhiem would keep Dallas at bay until old man Jovanovski exited the box and joined a rush with Kris Versteeg, who'd snipe a shot into the net for a 5 goal lead, the lone assist going to Weiss. Minutes later Marco Sturm would send a quick pass over towards Dadonov, where the puck would bounce off his skate and into the net. With the Toronto war-room taking a look at it, the result would be a good goal, assists going to Sturm and Mike Weaver (killing it out there!). I'll give credit to Dallas, they continued to put shots on net to end Clemmensen's shutout, but the netminder would stand tall to end the game 6-0, Panthers win.
- It was Brenden Morrow bobblehead night in Dallas. Too bad he didn't earn his 500th point though.
- Tonight was our first 'official' look at old friend Radek Dvorak, who's found a nice little spot on the Dallas roster. One could argue he was the best Star all night with his work on the penalty kill.
- Matt Bradley would leave the game in the third period with an upper body injury, meaning we may see Michal Repik called up from San Antonio.
- Mike Santorelli is regaining his scoring touch we saw last season, he had several big chances in the game but couldn't sink them. Still, creating lots of chances.
- Great turnaround for Kevin Dineen. After his club took boatloads of penalties against Philadelphia, the Panthers only took 3 penalties tonight. That's the Panthers I know and love.
- How about that first line? Steeg, Flash and Weiss would all score and earn at least an assist. Between the first line and the defense, who needs 4 lines?
- With reports flooding in, it seems Scottie Upshall will be out of the lineup for upwards of 8 weeks with a hip injury. Music to Dadonov's ears, as he's already blown past Scottie's goal total in just 2 games.
- A perfect +6 rating for Weiss tonight. That kind of preformance will earn him the C, not mouthing off to the ref.
- Washington lost, so the Panthers move back into a tie for first place though the Capitals hold the tiebreaker.
Fun Stat of the night: Kari Lehtonen let in so many goals Scott Clemmensen ended the game with more saves, despite rarely seeing action. (24-25 Clemmensen)