The Florida Panthers might have just have found a formula to win close games. Allow yourselves to get outplayed most of the game, barely put any shots on net, get behind, get a fluky goal to get back into the game right before the end of a period, then play a great final 10 minutes for the come from behind win. Of course, that’s ridiculous, but that’s just what the Cats to beat the streaking San Jose Sharks 3-2 Sunday in front of 16,217 at the Bank Atlantic Center.
Jason Garrison was the hero of the day with the game winning slapper with 2:01, cashing in on an impressive, hard working shift for all Cats involved. It was almost the extreme opposite of the previous 58 minutes for the Panthers that saw the Sharks out-everything them. It was a pretty hard game to watch as the Panthers looked lifeless from the opening faceoff. Bryan Allen‘s tilt with Jamal Mayers late in the second seemed to give the team a little boost and Mike Santorelli capitalized with a fluke goal off of Antti Niemi‘s skate to tie the game at 1.
I’ll be the first to admit, when Joe Pavelski made it 2-1 just two minutes into the third, I thought it was over. I had just seen this way too many times. Even when Chris Higgins‘ backhander found its way into the net, I thought heartbreak was ahead. But all the credit to the team for working hard and finding a way to win where they haven’t so many times before. It’s been a tough week to be a Panther fan considering the two losses by a goal (including the dagger on Thursday with 5 seconds left against Buffalo) so this win will certainly lift the spirits in the dressing room.
The win keeps the Panthers seven points back of the 8th spot in the East currently occupied by the Carolina Hurricanes (who also won Sunday) and keeps some hopes alive with a brutal week of home opponents ahead (Phi on Wednesday, Det on Friday). Sunday’s win allows a little optimism headed as the teams heads into that gauntlet.
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