First regulation home victory since November 4th (my b-day). Only the fifth home victory of the season! Yet coming at the cost of blowing a three goal lead, with overtime again looming! However, it was the stellar play of second year Panther forward Michael Frolik being in the right place at the right time to knock in a rebound with less than 1:30 to play in regulation for the win.
The rebound came off a shot from Stevie Wonder, as he was doing his best impersonation of a Denis Savard spinorama, as he spun and backhanded a shot that Thrasher goalie Johan Hedberg stopped, only to leave for Frolik who wasted no time banging home the winner! And the building went wild! Well, I think it did. At least everyobody who was there could breathe a sigh of relief and go home without another contest of free hockey!
The Panthers had pretty much controlled the game as they took an early lead with Weiss slamming putting in a shot off a rebound to give the Panthers an early 1-0 lead. Shortly after that Radek Dvorak scoring on the Panthers very next shot on goal to give the Cats a 2-0 lead midway through the first. You could feel that the goal scoring barrage was going to continue. Right?!
Just a couple minutes into the third captain Bryan McCabe scored for the first time in about what seems like a year, to give the Panthers a comfortable 3-0 lead. And that’s the key word. Comfortable. Apparently Florida had holiday shopping and x-mas parties on their minds and the 3-0 lead disintegrated, which is something that should never happen on home ice. But this is the new NHL and no lead is safe, no matter how much time is left. It used to be years ago that many games could have been put away with a comfortable lead in the first period, but no more. Teams are too talented and cetain teams can score in bunches when given the chance. Remember early this season when the Calgary Flames had a 5-0 lead against the Blackhawks in the first 10 minutes of the game? Hawks won in overtime 6-5!
While I’m not comparing the Hawks to either of these two teams, Atlanta somehow felt that if they could get one, they could get three as long as they kept the Panthers off the board. Ilya Kovalchuk who seems to score every game he plays against the Panthers gave Atlanta their first goal late in the second period and you could feel the Panthers tightening up just a bit after that. There was still a full 20 minutes of hockey to play and the Panthers would have to find a way to defend continue applying pressure.
To open the third Nik Antropov scored for Atlanta making it a 3-2 game. The Panthers had now committed a cardianl sin twice. Giving up a goal in the closing two minutes of a period, and in the opening two minutes of a period. Not good, and I am sure the whole confidence, and lack of killer instinct thing was going through everyone’s head. Rusty Olesz missed a glorious chance to make the game 4-2 when he was in front of Thrasher goalie Johan Hedberg, but instead of shooting forehanded, he decided to stickhandle and try a backhander (yea, I bet you were surprised too), that Hedberg easily turned away. When is he going to learn that everyone and their mother is on to that shot by now? He will never be a sniper if that crap continues. Marian Hossa of the Blackhawks took a pass from Jonathan Toews in last nights Blackhawks game and the puck couldn’t have been on Hossa’s stick more than a millisecond, as he shot immediately and scored. Different players for sure, but you get my drift. SHOOT THE PUCK!
Anyway, not to be outdone, another foriegner for the Thrashers scored as Slava Kozlov tied the game at three with alot of hockey left to play. Atlanta now had the momentum and you could feel them coming, but somehow the Panthers were able to hold them off and then the spinorama happened with Frolik pouncing on the rebound for the winning goal.
Some pretty good things came out of this. Weiss scored. Again. Weiss made a couple good plays again. (God that’s hard for me to write). Horton had two assists, and Bryan McCabe had eight shots! Panthers got two points and an Eastern Conference opponent they played got none. Montreal lost! The Panthers are now in the eighth playoff spot with 35 points and it’s only December! Hard to believe but that’s because a couple teams are tripping all over themselves and I won’t be surprised when that straightens itself out. In the meantime enjoy it Panthers, but there is no rest for you, unless of course you get a day off today which seems to be the pattern.
The bad, if any: Losing a three goal lead in your building. Can’t happen. Rusty missing a glorious chance. Dinty (I stole that from someone) also missing a half open net. Have to capitalize. Weiss now being used in the same sentence as Denis Savard. UGH! I liked it better when we were comparing him to Rico Fata (former draft pick bust).
My Molson Canadian Player of the Game: Michael Frolik with the winner of course.
Next up an home and home, on back to back nights with the Carolina WhalerCanes!
Thanks for reading.