C’mon, you had to know it was coming. At 3-0 with five minutes gone in the first period, you knew it was coming. My Rat Trick Brother In Arms Frank Rekas knew it was coming as we were texting each other during the game. This is the Florida Panthers we’re talking about here. Well, you were right. It was coming. The “It” refers to the 3-1 third period lead the Cats gave away to the Carolina Hurricanes, which led to a 4-3 loss.
It was an epic third period meltdown, even by the Panthers standards for meltdowns. In the span of seven minutes, the Kitties went from 3-1 up to 4-3 down, punctuated by a HORRIBLE turnover by Tomas Vokoun to Tuomo Ruutu, which he quickly deposited in the net for the insurmountable one goal lead. If only most Panther to Panther passes were so accurate.
Early on, it looked all too easy for the Cats. Evgeny Dadonov scored his first NHL goal 29 seconds into the game. Michael Frolik quickly followed with his 7th of the year just over a minute later. Bryan McCabe closed the Panther scoring account just 5:16 into the game, converting a 5-on-3 for this third of the season.
From there, the Panthers decided to reel in the offense, which of course, led to the Canes having new life. Erik Cole got the Canes going in the second by putting back a rebound of a Jeff Skinner shot (in which he completely undressed defenseman Mike Weaver by passing around him). Panther fans, get to know Jeff Skinner. You’ll be reminded that the Cats could have drafted him in June’s draft as he becomes a thorn in this team’s side for many years to come.
The third period unfolded just the way you expected it if you’ve followed this team for any length of time. Jamie McBain became the latest opponent to score his first of the year against the Panthers at 7:20. Five minutes later, Ruutu scored on a 5-on-3 before netting the game winner just over a minute later.
Plenty of fault to go around, but most of the blame has to lay at the feet of coach Pete DeBoer. The team went into shutdown mode very early on, which is almost ALWAYS a mistake in hockey. Meanwhile, Dadonov, who was playing his best game as a pro, seemed noticeably absent (11:56 TOI) late in the game, while the same guys who have failed so many times played the key minutes (and not surprisingly failed).
One has to wonder if there will be any fallout over this one. If this recent history of this franchise is any indication, there won’t be. Stephen Weiss and co. will still get way more ice time than they should even though the production has been abysmal. Somehow, they have to press on and try to forget this one. If only the fans could forget it with them.
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