If you would have told me that the Panthers would have finished this four game road trip with five out of a possible eight points, I would have thought you had started the holiday eggnog a little early! But low and behold, the Florida Panthers finished off their trip in high scoring fashion with a 7-1 bombing of the New York Islanders with Panther forward Nathan Horton leading the way with his second career hat trick! The victory improves the Panthers road record to 9-8-2 and they moved into a tie for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with Montreal.
Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer has been telling Horton that he needs to become a bit more selfish, so Horton took his advice and scored three times on the five shots he took in the game. DeBoer wants Horton to become more of a shoot first guy, and since Nathan has one of the best wrister’s in the league I whole heartedly agree with him.
Also scoring for the Panthers were Michal Repik, Stephen Weiss, Radek Dvorak, and The Coffee Maker, who finally notched his first goal of the season. This goal barrage by the Panthers forced the Islanders to make a goaltending change as Dwayne Roloson was chased after giving up five goals including a breakaway by Horton, and was replaced by Martin Biron who gave up two goals himself in the third period.
The score was 3-1 as the teams entered the third period, but within 55 seconds of the final frame the Cats had pulled out to a 5-1 lead, and you could feel the air come out of the building as the Panthers were finally able to take a very big deep breath in the third period of a game. They kept the pressure on as they scored two more goals and for once they displayed that killer instinct that we’ve been hoping for. Getting a lead is one thing, keeping it is another, but burying a team and stepping on the gas pedal is the real test. On this night the Panthers were able to do it all.
I would have to say that even though the Islanders looked lethargic and may have gift wrapped a couple goals, the Panthers were more than ready for this contest. Not to forget but Tomas Vokoun stopped 30 of 31 shots, and guess what? The Panthers stayed out of the penalty box as they had only two penalties to kill, and even managed to score a shortie at 12;40 of the first period. In addition two of the Panthers seven goals were scored on the power play.
Ice time for everyone was pretty well spread out, as even the fourth line guys, Oreskovich, Taffe, and Matthias each had at least ten minutes. Defenceman Dennis Seidenberg led all players with 23;32, as he continues to play a solid game for the Panthers. Wearing number 4, he’s not Bobby Orr by any means, but in time he’ll make Jay Bouwmeester seem like a distant memory.
My Molson Canadian Player of the Game is of course: Nathan Horton! Hats off to you Nathan! Keep this up!
The Panthers come home to a game against the Atlanta Thrashers Wednesday night at the Bank. I would expect nothing more than the same type of effort from the Cats as this game is a big one!
Continue playing with the confidence you have. You never know what it can do for you!
Thanks for reading.