Not much to say really about this one for Florida as the Canadiens handled the Panthers rather easily by winning 4-1, which included two empty netters for Montreal. Brian Gionta scored twice for Montreal and Florida just couldn’t create much of anything as Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak stopped 23 shots leading Uncle Jacks current team over Uncle Jacks former team.
The big news of the night is that Panthers forward David Booth was again on the wrong side of a hit and left the game and ultimately taken to hospital for observation and testing. While I only saw one replay, I’ll be getting some better looks at this later, but from the one reply I saw, there doesn’t appear to be anything illegal about it. It’s just that the last thing that Booth and the Panthers needed was another injury to the head as Booth missed 45 games earlier this season from the hit by Flyers forward Mike Richards back in October.
Booth appeared coherent and alert said Panthers General Manager Randy Sexton. We won’t know anything further until the tests results come back. The Panthers were expected to stay in Montreal overnight and take a bus to Ottawa Friday in preparation for their match up against the Senators Saturday. Booth may or may not be on that trip.
The injury occured as Booth was crossing the blue line with his head down and attempting to control the puck. Jaroslav Spacek’s shoulder met with Booth’s chin, and he layed on the ice for a few minutes before being helped off. Booth was bleeding from his face and appeared to have difficulty getting up. The hit occured on the eve of the NHL putting in place their new rule regarding blind side hits or lateral hits to the head, which could incure additional or supplementary discipline. As I said I only saw this one time and it appeared to be legal and no penalty was called. I’ll be taking another look at it later before I pass final judgement. Something that’s part of the game, but for Booth, it’s not something he needs to go through any more.
The Panthers provided some anxious moments for Montreal who had lost in overtime to Buffalo on Wednesday night blowing a two goal lead in the last two minutes of regulation. Radek Dvorak of Florida scored with 3:36 to play making the score 2-1. But the Panthers pulled goaltender Tomas Vokoun and Montreal got their two empty netters, one by Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta, which was Gionta’s second of the game.
Vokoun who started after getting a two and a half game rest, stopped 27 shots, but looked out of sorts on the first two goals that he gave up. Halak on the other hand made 23 saves and stopped two great scoring opportunities. One by Nathan Horton at four minutes in, and another by Rusty Olesz in the second period. Although Olesz most likely waited too long to shoot, as he shot the puck directly into Halak’s pads.
The Panthers whose season should be about over, are now in the 12th spot in the Eastern Conference with 71 points trailing Boston who has 78 points.
I just was able to get this highlight from Sportsnet on the game, which includes the hit on Booth by Mike Richards earlier this year, and the hit by Spacek last night.
I would be very surprised if Booth plays on Saturday against Ottawa. Actually shocked is probably the right word. There’s too much at stake for his career, and the Panthers don’t stand a chance of making the playoffs, so as far as I’m concerned, sit him for the rest of the season.
Next up, Saturday night at Ottawa.
Thanks for reading.
Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.