The relieved look on Dennis Wideman's face says it all

Panthers Stave Off Another Collapse

You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the bench of the Florida Panthers when Dennis Wideman’s game winning wrister found its way past Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth in overtime. Wideman’s goal meant that the Panthers hadn’t totally collapsed after building a 3-0 lead, only to see the Caps tie the game with 13 minutes left to play in regulation. Instead, the 4-3 win gave Florida the extra point and started a six game homestand on a positive note.

But it very easily could have been disaster. The flow of the game was all too familiar. The Panthers came out in the first and built a two goal lead behind one of the best periods the squad has played all season with goals from Mike Santorelli (on a 5-on-3
PP), and Marty Reasoner. David Booth made it 3-0 with seven minutes gone in the second on another 5-on-3 PP and that’s when the tide started turning Washington’s way.

Marcus Johansson squirted a goal through the wickets of Tomas Vokoun on an odd man rush. Mike Knuble buried one three minutes later off a beautiful cross-ice feed from Alexander Ovechkin. And with that, the crowd at the Bank Atlantic Center was waiting for the inevitable equalizer, which came from Johansson seven minutes into the third.

In the OT, Cory Stillman drew a Mike Green hook, which led to the game winner from Wideman. In case you weren’t keeping track, that’s THREE power play goals for the Panthers, something that had not happened this season. After the game, Wideman, the game’s first star, said of the OT PP, “It would have been heartbreaking if we couldn’t come through with one there.”

The win snaps a three game losing streak for the Cats, and gives the team a 19-20-2 record for the first half of the season, which puts them 11th in the Eastern Conference with 40 points, 11 out of the last playoff spot. The win also gives the Panthers a 2-1 record against Washington, a team they didn’t beat last season in six tries, which caused coach Pete DeBoer to joke, “I wish we could play them more.”

Not a whole lot of time for jokes though as the always tough Nashville Predators visit Sunrise on Thursday. The Preds shutout the Cats last month in their first meeting.

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Tags: David Booth Dennis Wideman Eastern Conference Florida Panthers Marcus Johansson Marty Reasoner Michal Neuvirth Mike Green Mike Knuble Mike Santorelli Nashville Predators Peter Deboer Washington Capitals

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