The Florida Panthers suffered a heartbreaking loss tonight, 3-2 in overtime, at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets. The Panthers and Jets were tied 2-2 in the waning seconds of overtime. Florida looked to be heading to their first shootout of the season. After killing the better part of an overtime penalty that put the team in a 4 on 3 man down situation, the Jets gathered the puck for one last rush. With sixteen ticks left in the overtime period, Zach Redmond played a nifty pass to Bryan Little giving him an open look in the high slot. Little proceeded to snipe the corner beating Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen glove side high.
Florida still managed to come out of the game with one point and will carry a three game point streak into Thursday’s game in Philadelphia. There were limited scoring opportunities the entire game with the Panthers only managing 19 shots to the Jets 21. Clemmensen got the start in place of Theodore for the Panthers and performed admirably saving 18 of 21. Ondrej Pavelec got the win for the Jets stopping 17 of 19 shots faced.
The Panthers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period when Drew Shore led a nice rush up the ice and got a shot on net. Pavelec made the stop on Shore but coughed up a juicy rebound for Huberdeau to hammer home for his third goal of the season. Drew Shore now has assists in back to back games and continues to excel for the Panthers. Shore looks to have solidified a spot centering the second line flanked by Huberdeau and Mueller.
The scoring heated up in the second period when Blake Wheeler tied the game at a goal apiece. Just over a minute later, Tomas Fleischmann put the Panthers back on top with a point shot that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net. The goal was Fleischmann’s third of the year and was assisted by Brian Campbell and Kris Versteeg. Mark Stuart brought the Jets back even with a point shot of his own that made its way to Clemmensen through multiple screens and beat him five hole.
The third period was a tactical battle and just like they did to the Sabres Sunday, the Panthers held the Jets without a shot until almost half way through the period. The stingy Panthers defense held Winnipeg to two shots for the period helping send the game to overtime and ensuring at least one point for the team on the road.
The crucial moment of the overtime period came when Filip Kuba took a tripping penalty 2:50 into the overtime. With the speedy Evander Kane carrying the puck into the Panther zone along the boards, Kuba overcommitted allowing Kane to cut back towards the net. Kane pushed the puck passed Kuba and had him beat leaving Kuba nothing to do but flail his stick helplessly. The Panthers were tenacious on the penalty kill getting their sticks in the passing lanes and sending the puck out of the zone numerous times. When it finally looked like the Panthers were out of the woods, the Jets embarked on one final rush which led to the decisive goal by Bryan Little.
While the overtime loss hurts, it was a good result for the Panthers on the road. It is essential to pick up any points whenever possible and going to Winnipeg, a very tough place to play, and coming out with one point has to be viewed as a success of sorts. The Panthers continued their run of solid play and now have to focus on the games ahead of them. Thursday against the Flyers will be a chance to avenge the 7-1 shellacking the Flyers put on the Panthers in South Florida. Two games into a crucial four game road trip and the Panthers have claimed three out of four possible points, that is certainly nothing to complain about.
Post Game Points:
- Erik Gudbranson did not dress tonight. Gudy played a game with the Rampage monday night so it would have been a hectic schedule for him had he played. Coming off a shoulder injury and only having two games with the Rampage under his belt, there was no reason for the team to rush Gudbranson back. He should be in the lineup Thursday against the Flyers and I expect Tyson Strachan will be the healthy scratch to make room for Gudbranson in the lineup.
- Brian Campbell’s TOI tonight was 30:10. That is an astounding amount of time on ice. So much of what the Panthers want to do runs through Campbell so it stands to reason that he is on the ice almost half of the entire game. I wouldn’t worry about him burning out as Campbell was at the top of the NHL last season in time on ice.
- The Panthers five game losing streak put the team into a hole but it is nothing that cannot be overcome, especially after taking five out of six points their last three games. Florida now has 7 points on the season, the NY Islanders who occupy the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference have 9 points. The season is still young and the Panthers are very much in the thick of things.