For the first time in this young season, the Florida Panthers have something tangible to show for after another strong outing: Two points in the standings as the Cats blanked the Calgary Flames 3-0.
The venerable Radek Dvorak pocketed a pair of goals in the first eight minutes of the game to put the Flames back on their heels and give the Panthers their first lead of the season. Shawn Matthias added his first on the year midway through the third to erase any thoughts of a comeback. Former Panthers Niklas Hagman, Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester had a combined 8 shots and were a collective -3. JayBo got a strong reminder of his desire to play in a more passionate hockey market as the Flames faithful rained boos upon the team at various points in the game.
– Vo-koun! After hardly being tested through the first two periods, Tomas stopped 16 third period Flames shots to preserve his first shutout of the season. Through the first three games, it looks like he’s just picking up where he left off.
-The revamped PK unit blanked the Flames PP 0-4. Many of those PP sessions for the Flames ended with zero shots, a far cry from a season ago.
-Despite being out shot 17-5 in the third period, the Panther defense had a strong game. The Flames were held to 10 shots through the first two frames while the Panthers protected a 2-0 lead. Only once the game was out of reach, did Calgary mount a serious offensive attack.
-Another game without any production from the first line. The combo of Weiss, Frolik and Higgins have produced zero points in three games (David Booth had one point in the Edmonton game, but he was skating with 4th line). Maybe they’re saving it for Saturday’s home opener, but they better not wait too long.
-It seems redundant, so I’ll keep it brief. The power play is just flat out dreadful right now.
-Shot accuracy continues to be a noticeable problem. Stevie Wonder playing ring toss has better accuracy than the Panthers. Too many shots are sailing way wide of it’s target without forcing anything from the goalie. Heck, aim for the logo if nothing else and hope for a rebound!
So that’s it for the opening Western Canada road trip as the Cats head home 1-2. Could’ve been better but the trip is salvaged with the two points in Calgary. Next up, the debut of the Panthers at the Bank Atlantic Center for the regular season Saturday against the hot-out-of-the-gates Tampa Bay Lightning (3-0, 6 pts). Check out our mates over at Bolts By The Bay for the Tampa side of things.
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