Same story, different ending; Panthers defeat Montreal in shootout, 3-2
I'm not sure what has more shootouts: a classic Western film, or a season of Florida Panthers hockey. This time though, Sheriff Wojtek Wolski came into Montreal and fired off a bullet over the blocker of Montreal netminder Carey Price, giving the Florida Panthers a 3-2 shootout victory over the Montreal Canadiens. The Panthers have gone to a shootout for the last three games, and have only come out on top in this one, but have continued to pile up points regardless. Thanks to Scott Clemmensen, Wolski and Mikael Samuelsson, Florida didn't leave the extra point on the table this time around, and pumped up their division points lead over the Washington Capitals to five points. The Panthers now have six games remaining, three of which are against teams with records under .500, and one against division rival Washington. This win against the Habs makes each of the next six games a little bit less of the "must-win" variety, though you can be sure the Panthers will continue to push with the postseason so close to their collective grasp.
Additional coverage available at Eyes On the Prize and SB Nation Florida
|Final - 3.27.2012||1||2||3||OT||SO||Total|
- Wojtek Wolski (4) 13:04, unassisted
- Erik Cole (31) PP 14:00, assisted by Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais2nd
- Louis Leblanc (5) 18:57, assisted by Frederic St-Denis3rd
- Mikael Samuelsson (12) 12:48, assisted by Erik Gudbranson and Marcel GocOT
- No scoringShootout
- David Desharnais stopped by Scott Clemmensen's right pad
- Wojtek Wolski with a gorgeous move, beating Carey Price blocker side
- Clemmensen shuts down Tomas Plekanec's wrister
- Mikael Samuelsson can't beat Price's right pad
- Clemmensen wins it for Florida by stuffing Louis Leblanc
- Clemmensen was great for the Panthers and saved the game several times in the OT period, of which Montreal dominated. He was big when he needed to be, especially in the shootout, and was very composed and controlled in his net. He is proving that the Panthers, should they make the playoffs, have a very capable starter should Jose Theodore falter.
- The Panthers powerplay was a major disappointment in the second period. They had back-to-back man advantages but couldn't score, and that could've been the difference in the game. They have to be quicker and play a bit wider when teams like Montreal, who like to pressure the point men and play them close, match up against the Panthers.
- The Habs are second in the league in blocked shots and showed the Panthers why. They were consistently in the shooting lanes, either blocking shots outright or deflecting pucks away from their own net. They are very good at it.
- The Leblanc goal was embarrassing for Florida. I facepalmed. The Panthers have now allowed a 3-on-0 and a 5-on-0 this season. All I can say about that is WTF.
- Scottie Upshall looked good, like he's getting his legs back. He can provide a lot of energy and a bit of scoring when healthy and playing on the 2nd or 3rd lines for the Cats. He certainly had a rough go of things this year due to all his injuries, but hopefully he'll stay healthy next season and contribute more. He showed a glimpse of what he's capable of in this game, including some time on the powerplay.
- Great to see Wolski score, as he's been a bit of an unnecessary scapegoat for the Panthers as of late. He's a natural scorer, something the Panthers obviously lack, and although he's known to let his worth ethic wane at times, he's gotta be in the lineup for the Cats down the stretch. They need guys who know how to put the puck in the opposition's net, and he's one of those guys. His shootout experience paid off as well, to the tune of two points. Pretty clutch.
- Erik Gudbranson played a great game for Florida. He's starting to really look more patient with the puck and is making very good first passes out of the zone, or going high off the glass if he can't find an opening. His physical play is always evident, but the coaches and management want to see him compliment that with some good puck possession skills and good decision making, and he's doing just that. Doesn't hurt that he beat the snot out of Ryan White too.
- If I see PK Subban complain about one more call or non-call, I'm going to buy a violin, call him, and play the saddest tune I know. Luckily for PK I have no idea how to play a violin. BUT THE THREAT STILL STANDS, PK.
Gudbranson gets the nod in this tilt. He was good defensively, played well with the puck, was a physical force, blocked shots, and set an example for the rest of the D on how to play a complete game. His assist on the Samuelsson goal also helped his case, as he led the rush up ice.
The Panthers have widened their lead to five points over Washington for the division lead, but still can't rest on their laurels, as a tough matchup against Minnesota is coming. Tough, you say? For a team like Florida who is struggling to score goals, this could indeed be a tough game. We'll see how they respond, and please, for the love of all that is good, NO MORE FRIGGIN SHOOTOUTS.