Just one game into this four game home stand and the Florida Panthers have already assured it will be more successful than the last one. With the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets breathing down their necks, the Panthers dropped the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 at the Bank Atlantic Center Sunday night, assuring they’d wake up on Monday in first place in the Southeast Division.
The story of the game was Jose Theodore as the veteran netminder continued his strong play with a 34 save gem of a shutout. He’s been getting a lot of work lately by playing in his third game in four nights but you wouldn’t have known it from his performance.
Tomas Fleischmann gave Theodore all of the goal support he would need on this night when his wrister clanked in off the post 3:22 into the second period. It was Fleischmann’s second goal in as many games after a frustrating patch that saw him hit more post than net. In a game where both Theodore and Carolina goalie Cam Ward were both sharp, getting the first goal was to be paramount as it might be the only one scored.
And for the most part it was. Jerred Smithson scored what, at first, appeared to be his first goal as a Florida Panther but the war room correctly disallowed it when replays clearly show he kicked it into the net. The waved off goal became a moot point when Marcel Goc buried an empty netter with 1:32 left.
The win is magnified by the fact that the Capitals had won their game just minutes before this one finished and briefly vaulted into first place. It wasn’t pretty as the failure to capitalize on some open chances could’ve really come back to haunt the Cats but Theodore made sure they wouldn’t Sunday. It’s a great way to start the home stand and certainly gives the team momentum as they head into a busy week of games.
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