If you’re a Florida Panthers fan, you had to wonder what team was going to show up to Monday night’s game against the Boston Bruins: The hard-working scrappy bunch that beat the B’s 2-0 on December 8th, or the team that was blown out of the building almost from the opening face-off in a 8-0 pasting on 12/23. The good news was that is was the former that showed up. The bad news was that despite having several golden chances to walk away with the win, the Cats had to settle for a point over the reigning Stanley Cup champions in a 3-2 shootout loss.
Things didn’t start out too well once again for the Panthers as they surrendered the game’s first goal for the fourth consecutive game as Patrice Bergeron fired a wrister from straight on that beat Scott Clemmensen 1:20 into the game to give Boston a 1-0 lead. It would be Boston first shot on goal and they wouldn’t get their second for another six minutes as the Cats outshot the B’s 12-6 in the period.
Florida would tie the score midway through the second period as Jason Garrison blasted home his 12th goal of the season (with the assist to Dennis Seidenberg’s skate) from the left point. At 14:40 in the period, it would be Bergeron who would give the Bruins the lead again as he converted a 5-on-3 by putting a pass from Tyler Seguin past Clemmensen for a 2-1 lead. Just 1:14 later, Shawn Matthias would atone for putting the Cats in that predicament by coming out of the box to a Tomas Kopecky pass and burying a breakaway past Tukka Rask to even it up at 2. On the goal, Stephen Weiss picked up assist number 232, which breaks the team record previously held by Olli Jokinen.
Even though the third period went scoreless, both teams had ample chances to grab the game-winner. No chance better than Michal Repik’s breakaway that was stoned by Rask with 1:01 left in the period. It wouldn’t be the last time the Cats missed an opportunity to close this game out. A Bergeron hook in overtime have the Panther a 4-on-3 power play that they couldn’t covert. And with :15 left, it would be Rask saving Boston’s day again as he stopped yet another breakaway, this one from Kris Versteeg.
In the shootout, both teams were unsuccessful on their first opportunities. In the third round, Weiss badly beat an overcommitted Rask and buried it in an open net. Bergeron would follow that up with a goal of his own to send it to a fourth frame. After a Mikael Samuelsson whiff, David Krejci would bury his attempt to give the Bruins the win.
The loss would come with an injury price to pay. Ed Jovanovski injured his hand in a first period fight with Daniel Paille late in the first and would not return. If he’s gone for any length of time, Keaton Ellerby would find his way back into the lineup.
The point the Panthers gained in this game means they take over possession of first place of idle Washington, who also now have a game in hand. And while it was nice to see the Panthers come out with the energy and the effort they should have come out with in Friday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the number of uncoverted breakaways haunts this game. It’s not often a team of Boston’s caliber gives you a golden opportunity to put them away, yet the Bruins gave them plenty and were only able to convert on Matthias’ goal. But to Boston’s credit, Rask, the game’s third star, is as good as most team’s starting goalie and he stood strong when the team in front of him put him in the tough predicaments. But this team has raised expectations for them to be satisfied with a point against the champs, especially since the cushion in the Southeast Division has been erased by the Capitals. After the game, it was a pretty quiet dressing room, as they were left to wonder what could have been if they could have finished just one more chance.
You can see some post game video from Kevin Dineen and Scott Clemmensen at the Rat Trick You Tube page.
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Tags: Boston Bruins Daniel Paille David Krejci Dennis Seidenberg Ed Jovanovski Florida Panthers Jason Garrison Keaton Ellerby Michal Repik Olli Jokinen Patrice Bergeron Pittsburgh Penguins Scott Clemmensen Shawn Matthias Stanley Cup Stephen Weiss Tomas Kopecky Tukka Rask