This one stings. No matter what way you try to spin it, it stings. Thursday night, the Florida Panthers looked like they had at the very least salvaged a point from an uneven game when Kris Versteeg buried a shot into an open Ottawa Senators net with 48 seconds left to knot the game at 3. Roughly 46 seconds later, it was Nick Foligno who stole the momentum and all of the points from this game, as he put back a Daniel Alfredsson rebound with 2.5 seconds on the game clock (a full second was put back on before the next faceoff) and gave the Senators a 4-3 win. The Panthers only trailed 3.5 seconds in the game, but it was enough to walk away pointless.
Jacob Markstrom allowed four goals but didn’t get a whole lot of help from the skaters in front of him. The last three goals allowed came directly off Panther turnovers, leaving the rookie hung out to dry. For the third straight game, he saw a high number of shots, facing 38 while stopping 34 of them.
The night started well enough for the Panthers as Jason Garrison got his team up early when he blasted a slapshot just inside the blueline past Sens goalie Craig Anderson with just under five minutes gone in the game. The good news is that since pairing with Brian Campbell this season, he is starting to come into his own as a factor on offense. Tonight he picked up his third goal in his ninth game compared to the five he scored in 73 games played a season ago. The Cats took the 1-0 lead and the momentum to intermission.
The Sens tied it early in the second when Alfredsson wristed home his fourth of the year after a great Ottawa effort to keep the puck in their offensive zone. But the Cats quickly took the lead back when Stephen Weiss but back a rebound from a Tomas Fleischmann shot just over a minute later. However, the period would end in a tie when a Dmitry Kulikov turnover led to a 2-on-1 with Erik Condra feeding Stephane Da Costa (fresh from the penalty box) to even it up.
The score would stay tied until there were less than three minutes left in the game. That’s when another Panther turnover led to Colin Greening taking advantage of a wide open crack at Markstrom and buried it to make it 3-2. It was then that Versteeg seemingly rescued a point before Foligno’s game winner deflated the Panther balloon.
Some problems we’ve seen before in this young season manifested themselves in this game. The Panthers tried to get way too ‘cute’ with the puck in their defensive zone, especially in the third period, that led to turnovers that cost them the game. It appears on every goal, the Cats were disorganized and were scrambling to get back into position. When you look at the game winner, you see Marcel Goc stand and watch the puck and Foligno blows past him to catch the rebound for the goal.
Also, once again, the first line of Versteeg-Weiss-Fleischmann carried the load offensively. They collected five points (2 goals) while the rest of the forwards didn’t get one. And while coach Kevin Dineen wants production from all four lines, that’s not how it’s playing out. While it’s nice that the Panthers finally have a top line that can produce, scoring from the other lines is essential to this team’s success. As it stands after this game, the first line has outscored the other three lines of forwards eleven goals to seven. Dineen has his work cut out for him as he tries to piece together another line that can consistently be a scoring threat.
Have to admit, I was pretty angry after this one at first, and I still am but when it’s said and done, it only counts as one loss. True, that point (possibly two points) might come back to haunt later on but it’s something this team needs to put it behind them as the Buffalo Sabres, who handed the Cats a 3-0 loss a few weeks ago. If somehow, the Panthers are able to pull a win out in Buffalo, this one will sting a lot less.
Be sure to visit SenShot to see how Ottawa feels about this game.
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Topics: Brian Campbell, Colin Greening, Craig Anderson, Daniel Alfredsson, Dmitry Kulikov, Erik Condra, Florida Panthers, Jacob Markstrom, Jason Garrison, Kevin Dineen, Kris Versteeg, Marcel Goc, Nick Foligno, Ottawa Senators, Stephane Da Costa, Stephen Weiss, Tomas Fleischmann