The Florida Panthers finished their season in the same way they played out the entire 82-game schedule – a lot of promise, mixed with disappointment and expected mistakes.
A very forgettable start to the game, the Panthers found themselves down 1-0, severely outshot and without their captain – who was tossed after throwing a forearm to the head of an opposing player.
For most teams, especially one that is in the position the Panthers are in, it could have easily been a situation in which they packed it in and started the offseason early – but they fought back regardless, again giving the fan base hope for the future.
Even though they were outshot 18-9, Roberto Luongo and a Vincent Trocheck shorthanded goal kept the Panthers in the game.
A second period outburst that had Florida turn the tide of the game, but despite two unanswered goals and outshooting the Columbus Blue Jackets 17-6 – the game was still deadlocked going into the third period.
Jimmy Hayes scored for the Panthers, giving him more goals than the player he was traded for – Kris Versteeg – since the trade occurred.
Since he was drafted in 2010, Ryan Johansen has been known as a budding star power forward and has turned bloomed into one this season. He sealed his team’s fate as the top wild card team, as well as a matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
His blend of size and skill is something that hasn’t been unfamiliar for the Panthers this year, as they have two centers with the potential to do the same thing for Florida that Johansen has done for Columbus.
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