Photo Source: Miami Herald

A Night Of Firsts. Panthers 4-Tavares 3

Bill Torrey Tribute Night was a huge success at the Bank Atlantic Center Saturday for the Florida Panthers in a number of ways.  The pregame ceremony honoring one of the founding father’s and builders of the Panthers, was well done and well received. Ssetting the tone for a battle between two teams that Mr. Torrey was instrumental in building.  I’ve been at these types of events before and the home team either comes out with fire in their eyes or with their tails between their legs.  Well on this night, the Cats had a bit more fire than Thursday night against the Dallas Stars, and that proved just enough to beat John Tavares and the New York Islanders.

So while Bill Torrey is the first individual to have a banner hung at the Bank, the other firsts included the first NHL Hat Trick for John Tavares, as he provided all the offense for the Islanders.  Other firsts’ included goals by Panther defenceman Mike Weaver, who scored his first of the season to give Florida the lead.  Later on Steve Bernier got his first goal as a Panther, as he had half an open net to shoot at, while Islander goalie Rick DiPietro was trying to slide back to his other side.

David Booth got on the board as well for Florida, but it was Radek Dvorak’s goal in the third period with just about 6 minutes left to go, as he banged in a rebound off a Bryan McCabe shot to seal the victory for Florida.  Bringing their record to a respectable 3-3 on the season.

It was Dvorak though, earning the victory for Florida by being in the right place at the right time, as Radek was certainly motivated by the pre game festivites.  Radek was drafted in 1995 by the Panthers and owes a great deal to Torrey, and has the utmost respect for him as a person.

This was the eighth consecutive time that Florida has beaten the Islanders on home ice, a franchise record.  The Panthers had come into to the game as the only team not to give up a power play goal, but Tavarers changes all that as his first two tallies came with the man advantage.

Michael Grabner who came over to the Panthers in the Keith Ballard trade and was placed on waivers prior to the season starting, returned in an Islander uniform.  From my seat, I didn’t notice him too much, so maybe that will prove to be a good move afterall.  Regardless, it was nice to see the other player in the deal, Steve Bernier notch his first goal.  Bernier’s speed was noticeable last night as he had a lot of jump in his game and was given some time on the second line as well as the power play.  Bernier also placed his body in the crease during the man advantage minutes he was given.  Nice move by DeBoer recognizing and rewarding a player for his hard work.  It would be nice to see more of this from Steve.

Speaking of Steve, my favourite whipping boy Little Stevie was held scoreless in over 19 minutes of action.  At times he tried to use his speed, but his lack of strength (I thought he worked out with Gary Roberts this summer), got him moved off the puck.  Stevie has one goal and one assist after 6 games as the number one center.  That puts him on pace for a whopping 26 points for the year.  Little Miss Rat Trick asked me after the game, how many more years does he have left on his contract?  My answer, too many.  Pete, stand by your words, and if this guy doesn’t start producing, you need to demote him to at least the second line.  He doesn’t deserve the ice time for a first liner right now.

Shawn Matthias missed the game as he took a puck off his foot in practice, and Darcy Hordichuk took his place in the lineup.  Darcy played a total of 2 minutes.  Here we go again.  make your own conclusions.  Keaton Ellerby took Jason Garrison’s place on defence as Garrison is nursing a minor groin injury.  Ellerby picked up two assists in 12 minutes, but still looks as though he needs to build up his strength.

Where’s Chris Higgins?  Please put out the ABP!  No goals yet, but I guess it might help if he had a real center to dish him the puck!  Hopefully he gets on the board soon as he was found on the third line as the game wore on.  Hopefully the Canadien road trip this week gets him pumped up.

Game details from TSN.

My Molson Canadien Player of the Game:  Radek Dvorak, show scored the game winner.

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Tags: Bill Torrey Florida Panthers Hat Trick John Tavares Little Stevie New York Islanders Radek Dvorak Steve Bernier

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