We’ve seen it far too many times this season, but every time the Florida Panthers get a two goal lead I can’t be the only one thinking, “they can’t blow ANOTHER lead, can they?” Well, just about every time, I think it, they do. Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers was just the latest example as the Cats blew a 3-1 early third period lead before four minutes had elapsed in the final frame.
This time, however, the Panthers tried a different ending. They used their ONLY shot of the third period to score the flukiest of goals from Mike Weaver to win 4-3, which snapped a four game losing streak.. And go figure, they manage to push four goals past one of the leagues best netminders in Henrik Lundqvist on only 17 shots.
Rostislav Olesz and Mike Santorelli (each with 2 pts), sandwiched tallies around Keaton Ellerby’s first NHL goal that helped the Panthers build the two goal lead. But as we’ve been become accustomed to, the team got tight, which allowed to Rangers, who came out of the locker room buzzing, to tie it up at 3:05 of the third on Brian Boyle’s shot.
If you’re a Panther fan, the third period had all too familiar look to it, except for Weaver’s goal. The Rangers came at Tomas Vokoun in waves, with the Panthers seemingly powerless to stop it. But this time, Vokoun and the defense did just enough to preserve the win.
And while the old adage of “Doesn’t matter how, but IF you win” certainly applies, the continuing trend of blowing multi-goal leads is quite confounding. How does this continue to happen? Coaching? Lack of veteran leadership? Whatever it is, it’s caused the team to leave a lot of points on the ice, or just flat out given them to the other team. Looking at the standings, it’s the sole reason the Panthers aren’t sitting in the top eight in the standings. Yes, this team’s best days lie in the next few years ahead, but this team CAN make the playoffs THIS year because of the parity in the Eastern Conference (after all this, they’re still only six points out of the 8th seed). And if you’re aim is to build to future playoff success, it would be nice if some of these guys get some playoff experience this season.
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