For his 100th win as a NHL head coach, the Florida Panthers certainly gave coach Pete DeBoer one to remember in Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. In the style fans have been accustomed to for the better part of the season, the Cats built a first period lead and then had trouble producing much offense the rest of the game. The Blackhawks outshot the Cats 29-7 from the second period on and scored two goals, but couldn’t even the game up behind a vintage Tomas Vokoun performance. Vokoun withstood a 40 minute barrage from the hottest team (and player in Jonathan Toews) in the league. After the game, Vokoun said:
“It wasn’t pretty but it’s a big win. It’s good for the psyche of the locker room, you know, get the guys a little bit up and excited. We need it.”
Florida jumped out early behind the surging David Booth, who tallied his team leading 20th goal just over four minutes into the game. Defenseman Clay Wilson gave the Cats a 2-0 lead with his first of the year five minutes later. And in a twist of fate, the Panthers picked up a late period goal from Marty Reasoner with 6.9 left in the first. It left the Panther faithful screaming and the heavy Chicago contingent in the crowd scratching their head.
But as we’ve seen when the Panthers build a big lead, the opposition finds their way back in. Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa pulled the Hawks to within one heading into the third. If you’re a Panther fan, you probably thought you knew how the third period would go. And for the most part, you’d be right. The Blackhawks kept the puck in their offensive zone for much of the third, peppering Vokoun with wave after wave of pressure. The Panthers had a few chances to salt it away but Booth was stoned on a breakaway attempt by Marty Turco (who replaced Corey Crawford after the first period) and didn’t manage a shot on an empty net. Vokoun somehow managed to keep the puck out of the net, giving Dale Tallon his first victory over the team he helped shape into champions. After the game, Pete DeBoer said:
“It was a nice win, I’m happy for our guys. We got a lot of young guys in that room, a bunch of American League guys that have been up and they played hard and deserved two points.”
Tallon’s Panthers will get a second shot at his old club on the 23rd of this month, this time in Chicago. Check out our Fansided counterparts over at Blackhawk Up to see their reaction to last night’s game.
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