Panthers Meltdown With Victory In Grasp

This one hurts. This one really hurts. From ownership down to the fans, this one hurts. Two minutes from shutting out division foe Atlanta on home ice to push the winning streak to four games was just too much for the Florida Panthers. A two goal lead (heard that one before?), gone in the blink of an eye. Instead of two points in pocket, the Panthers gently tossed one of them to the Thrashers. This one hurts.

For more than forty minutes of the game, Atlanta looked very much like a team that had lost five in a row. The Cats owned most of the scoring chances and outshot the Thrashers 36-27 in regulation. No one from Atlanta responded to a heavy hit to the head on Evander Kane from Rostislav Olesz in the first (except Kane himself, who picked up a high sticking penalty to close out the first).

When Dmitry Kulikov’s powerplay shot pinballed into the net of off Brent Sopel with 13 minutes to go in the game, the game seemed all but over. The Thrashers‘ play gave no indication that they had a comeback in them.

What a difference two minutes makes.

Two goals for Atlanta with the goalie pulled and a joyous night turned melancholy in a hurry. David Booth’s hustle in OT almost rescued the night, but Atlanta netminder Ondrej Pavelec stood tall for the extra period and the shootout. In the other net, Scott Clemmensen didn’t even get any equipment on the two Thrasher shootout attempts that found the back of the net.

One would think that Tomas Vokoun is back in the Panther net on Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets after tonight’s game. While you can’t lay this solely at Clemmensen’s feet (the Cats missed an empty net 3-4 times throughout the game), he couldn’t come up with the save the Panthers needed most (again, not solely his fault). Couple that with a really poor shootout performance and I’d expect coach Pete DeBoer to go back to Vokoun to see how he responds to the recent benching.

For the much more positive Atlanta view, check out the recap over at Fansided’s Thrasher Backer.

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Tags: Atlanta Thrashers Brent Sopel David Booth Dmitry Kulikov Evander Kane Florida Panthers Mike Weaver Ondrej Pavelec Peter Deboer Rostislav Olesz Scott Clemmensen Tomas Vokoun

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