Panthers Split Games In Weekend Road Trip


The Florida Panthers played two crucial games this past weekend on the road in Carolina on Saturday and New York against the Rangers on Sunday. Dan Ellis played both games in net for the Cats as Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya are still out due to injury.

Ellis played phenomenal in both outings as he achieved a 27-save shutout Saturday night in Carolina as the Panthers beat the Hurricanes 2-0. Despite one of the best efforts by the Panthers in New York the Sunday, they lost 2-1 and Ellis saved 32 of the Rangers 34 shots. Since being called up by the Panthers, he has a 3-1-1 record and has made some very impressive saves. “This has been a great time so far. Any time you can help a team get into the playoffs, it’s a special time of year.” Ellis stated.

In Carolina, it was a scoreless 1st Period where the Hurricanes dominated 15-8 in shots. However, forward Brandon Pirri top-shelved a shot over Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward on the power play to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead with 3:40 left in the 2nd Period from a great pass by forward Jimmy Hayes.

”It was just one of those streaking plays that was toward the end of the power play. I was just trying to put it on net and Jimmy made a great pass to me. We just took what we were given and Jimmy made a great pass. If that was a lucky one, we’re going to take what we can get. said Pirri on his goal.

Florida Panthers
Florida Panthers /

Florida Panthers

The Panthers outshot the Hurricanes 9-4 in the 2nd Period and the Hurricanes had the advantage leading in shots 8-5 in the 3rd Period. Both goaltenders stood tall until the end as Panthers forward Dave Bolland secured the empty net goal with 40 seconds left in regulation to give the Panthers a 2-0 victory.

This was the second win against the Hurricanes this season for the Panthers as they beat them 1-0 in Sunrise on November 26th. It was also Dan Ellis 15th career shutout of his NHL career. He has had a good career versus his former team in Carolina with a 3-0 record against them all-time.

Moving onto Sunday, the Panthers had to face a red hot Rangers team at Madison Square Garden whom had only lost once in regulation since February 7th. The Panthers played one of their most spirited games of the season as they peppered 39 shots on Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot. However, Talbot stole the show by earning his team a 2-1 win and the Rangers now lead the league in points with 95.

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead with 49.6 seconds left in the 1st Period as they had good possession in the Panthers zone with a goal by forward James Sheppard for his 6th goal of the season. Once again, the Panthers did not have a good 1st Period as the Rangers outshot them 12-6.

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However, the 2nd Period was a complete opposite. The Panthers had multiple shifts with a flurry of shots at Talbot, but could not light the lamp. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad also hit the crossbar with 1:57 remaining in the period. By the time the period was over, the Panthers had gotten 20 shots on net and 66 attempted shots in the game. The Rangers again had 12 shots on goal in the 2nd Period. It seemed impossible for the Panthers to solve Talbot all night no matter what they did.

The Panthers continued that terrific effort in the 3rd Period with more great shifts in the Rangers zone, but still could not solve Talbot. However, 8:37 into the period, Rangers defenseman Matt Hunwick roofed a shot over Dan Ellis to give them a two-goal lead.

When it still continued to seem that Talbot was literally a wall, Brandon Pirri got the Panthers on the board with 9:49 left in regulation off a faceoff for his 15th goal of the season. Despite a power play for the Panthers with 2:36 left in the game and Ellis pulled from the net, it wasn’t enough to tie the game and the Rangers earned another victory.

In the end, while it was a very disappointing outcome in a very crucial game, Panthers fans could not ask for a much better effort. The team had 98 attempted shots at Cam Talbot compared to the Rangers 52 attempted shots. Overall, the Panthers outshot the Rangers 39-34.

The 98 attempted shots was one shy of 99 attempted shots by the Panthers back on December 4th against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Sunrise where they lost 4-3 in a shootout as goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 55 saves.  Further, the Panthers’ 98 shot attempts (CF) from last night were the highest that the Rangers have allowed since data was first starting to be collected in the 2002-03 season.

Sunday night also featured two games that both affected the Panthers in the standings. The Ottawa Senators beat the Philadelphia Flyers on 2-1 in a shootout. The Senators move one point ahead of the Panthers with 75 points into 9th place in the Eastern Conference and have a game in hand. The Flyers are three points behind Florida whom has also two games in hand on them. Unfortunately, for the Panthers, it was the worst outcome that they could have asked for.

More importantly, the two teams currently in the Eastern Conference Wild Card spots played one another. The Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 2-0. With that result, the Capitals move eight points ahead of the Panthers and have played one more game. The Bruins stay six points ahead of the Panthers with the same number of games played.

It is very likely that Luongo will be back in the lineup on Tuesday as the Panthers return home to begin a three-game homestand against the Montreal Canadiens. The Detroit Red Wings come to Sunrise on Thursday followed by the Bruins on Saturday in a very important game that could concern playoff implications.

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