Bill Lindsey Florida Panthers T.V. color commentator said at the beginning of the broadcast that Tomas Vokoun was going to have to steal the game tonight for the Panthers to win. By making 40 saves, many crucial, Vokoun did just that as the Panthers won their first game in Montreal in almost three seasons.
The effort was significantly better than Thursday’s flat tire for sure, even though the first few minutes looked like another sluggish game was about to be played. After killing an early penalty it seemed as though Florida got themselves going, and with Vokoun looking solid, they began to get themselves on track. Although, puck possession is still something this team needs a little more of especially in the offensive zone, they got on the board first on Michael Frolik’s first goal of the season as he picked up his own rebound putting it past Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price. Did Frolik get the message after sitting out Thursday night against Ottawa? Maybe. But either way, he needs to score goals.
Early in the second Mathieu Darche scored to tie the game at one on a goal that somehow found it’s way past Vokoun who was hugging the post, but nonetheless, Darche was able to shove the puck past the Panther netminder. At this point the Panthers could have folded, but that wasn’t the case as they continued to apply pressure and winger David Booth was awarded a penalty shot after being tripped up by Canadien defenceman Jaroslav Spacek. Booth made no mistake and put the puck past a sprawling Price giving Florida a lead they wouldn’t lose.
Every Panthers fan stomach must have been churning though when the third period began as Montreal had a 5 on 3 advantage for the opening 90 seconds. Montreal had some chances but was stoned by Vokoun, with a little help from Dennis Wideman on a shot by Brian Gionta that went off of Wideman’s skate.
It seemed as the period continued on that Montreal was closing in and that if they scored they could break the Panthers back. Not the case as Florida hung on. A nice play giving the Panthers an insurance goal was scored by Shawn Matthias who scored off a rebound from a shot by Rhino. The play itself was talked about by Don Cherry on the CBC post game show last night. Cherry described two positive things that Matthias did. One, he chipped the puck off the glass out of the Panthers defensive zone, and two, followed the play allowing him to pounce on the rebound and give the Cats some breathing room.
Little Stevie who’s been looking at a line demotion straight in the face, sat this one out as he tweaked his pinky ankle in practice on Friday. Just as good as a benching for me.
Darcy Hordichuk who had revenge on his mind asked Montreal’s Travis Moen to go apparently, but Moen refused. It looked as though Darcy was chasing Moen a bit, but is never materialized. Moen who actually found himself playing with the top six, thought better than to waste his night fighting Hordichuk.
With about 120 seconds or so left, Billy Lindsey seemed to be having a kniption fit in the T.V. booth feeling that the Canadiens coaching staff lost track of time and failed to pull Carey Price for the extra skater.
Dennis Wideman led all Panthers with 23: minutes of ice time. No forward had more than Marty Reasoner’s 19:44.
My Molson Canadien Player of The Game: Tomas Vokoun.
Here’s the TSN recap.
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