It started out so alarming familiar for the Florida Panthers. Sunday night at the Bank Atlantic Center, the Panthers dug themselves a 2-0 hole for the third consecutive game, this time to the Ottawa Senators. In both of those games, it didn’t turn out well for the Southeast Division-leading Cats as they were hammered Thursday by the Winnipeg Jets 7-0 and dropped by the Nashville Predators 3-1 on Saturday.
But on this night, the Panthers wrote a different ending to the story. They erased a 2-0 deficit after one within the first 2:54 of the second and scored the eventual game winner at 11:03 en route to a 4-2 win over a team the hadn’t beaten in their previous nine attempts. More importantly, the win stopped a two-game losing skid as the Panthers try to hold off Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals, and the resurgent Tampa Bay Lightning in the Southeast. With a game still in hand, the Panthers hold a four point edge over the second-place Jets.
Jared Cowen and Chris Neil scored twice in the final half of the first period to send the Panthers into the intermission to face coach Kevin Dineen. And while no one really knows exactly what was said during that intermission, whatever it was, it worked.
Marcel Goc responded on the first shift of the second period as his shot deflected up and over Senators netminder Robin Lehner and in just :33 after the puck dropped. Just over two minutes later, Krys Barch converted a breakaway with a finish reminiscent of a first line forward and not a fourth-line grinder to bring Florida back level. Off a Jack Skille feed, Barch raced in, drew Lehner out of his net with a move to the left, and easily tapped it in to an open cage. Mikael Samuelsson’s power play goal midway through the second would be all Jose Theodore would need to pick up his 17th win of the year, who didn’t have much work over the final two periods. Skille would put the baby to bed for the Panthers when he converted a breakaway of his own with 146 ticks left on the clock.
Despite the early mistakes, there’s a lot of like in this game. First off, the Panthers were able to put together a defensive effort that kept Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson off of the scoresheet. Karlsson has developed into a “Panther-killer” in his short time in the NHL it’s no surprise to see a 0 in his point total in this Florida win. Secondly, it was great to see Theodore respond after a rough third period in Winnipeg (albeit, he wasn’t helped out at all by his defense on that night). Theodore is going to need to play the majority of games down the stretch so to see him come out and play well is a great sign for the remaining games.
And lastly, the push-back (as Dineen is want to call it) was beyond impressive. This team didn’t show much of it in the past two losses so, to come back like they did after being down to a team that has had their number all season long. The sort of push-back was absent in the past two losses en route to being outscored 10-1. Can they take advantage of that confidence going into a brutal back-to-back trip against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers this Thursday/Friday and come out with a pair of wins? Hard to say, especially with leading scorer Kris Versteeg’s status still unknown but, it’s certainly much better to head into it with a win like this fresh in their memories.
Thanks for reading! Any and all comments are greatly appreciated.
Please visit our main NHL page: Too Many Men On The Site
Want to talk more hockey? Then you can follow The Rat Pack on Twitter! Me: @davidlasster, Frank Rekas: @TheRatTrick Josh Luecht: @joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin: @PatrickRattrick Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, David Rodriguez @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis @PeejLewis, Adam Reid @AdamReid_ and, Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger. Also, please visit our Facebook Fan Page and like us! Share comments, photos, anything Panthers related!