There would be no shootout on this night.
After having their past two home contests go to the skills competition to decide the winner, it looked like the third game of the home stand would be heading for the same conclusion. That is until Kris Versteeg launched a Brian Campbell pass (via a Stephen Weiss deflection) into an open cage 3:08 into the extra session to give the Cats a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The win is an amazing result considering the Panthers virtually sleepwalked through the first two periods that left the Canes with a 2-1 lead and a 23-12 shot advantage. Things got off to a solid start as Sean Bergenheim scored on his own rebound 4:16 into the first period. It was the third consecutive goal Bergenheim has scored for the Panthers (he had both goals in Friday’s win over Calgary), but the news wasn’t all good, as he later injured his groin his status for Tuesday is unknown.
Bergenheim’s goal was about the only good thing that happened for the Panthers over the first 40 minutes of the game. Carolina tied the game up late in the first when Tim Gleason’s wide-open slap shot from the point found it’s way past Jose Theodore. The goal seemed to take much of the life out as they appeared listless deep into the second period. That’s when Chad LaRose grabbed a Versteeg turnover in the left corner (that same left corner would cause him some trouble later), turned and fired a quick wrister past Theodore to take a 2-1 lead. That goal seemed to bring the Cats back to life as they spent the final five minutes of the period applying pressure on Canes goalie Cam Ward, but with no results.
After only having one (unsuccessful) crack at the power play in the game, the Cats finally got chance number two early in the third when Jussi Jokinen boarded Versteeg in that same left corner (he’d take another spill there a few minutes later). The slumping Panther power play unit ended its goalless drought when Jason Garrison scored on, what else, but a booming slap shot from the point 5:47 into the third. The Canes, despite having a power play of their own in the second half of the period, never generated any serious momentum as they only managed two shots in the frame. Regulation would end at 2 before Versteeg’s winner sent a rain of victory rats onto the Bank Atlantic Center ice for the second straight game.
If the adage that good teams win on night’s when they don’t play their best, than the Panthers once again reaffirmed their arrival as a good team. All season long, this team has shown not only its will to win, but an ability to score in the clutch that certainly wasn’t expected, at least to this degree. But this win does come with a cost with the Panthers losing a forward for the second consecutive game, with Bergenheim being the injured Cat. Which means that Dale Tallon will probably have to reach down to San Antonio for another forward. At some point, you have to fear that these injuries will catch up to the Cats, but it seems this team just plugs in another guy and goes about their game. The good news is that the Panthers should get Scottie Upshall and Marcel Goc back in the next few weeks (Upshall probably before Goc) to help ease the burden on the Florida AHL affiliate.
The Cats have a chance to make this home stand a winning one when they close it out Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes.
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Topics: Bank Atlantic Center, Brian Campbell, Calgaary Flames, Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes, Chad Larose, Florida Panthers, Jason Garrison, Jose Theodore, Jussi Jokinen, Kris Versteeg, Marcel Goc, Phoenix Coyotes, Scottie Upshall, Sean Bergenheim, Stephen Weiss, Tim Gleason, Victory Rats