Florida Panthers stumble to the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17: Reilly Smith
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17: Reilly Smith /

Tonight marked the first time in franchise history where the Florida Panthers would face off against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Not only was this match a game where both sides would meet for the first time, but it was also the return of former Panthers head coach (Gerald Gallant), and ex Cats (Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault).

The game started off well for the Panthers, as it did for their opponent (Vegas Golden Knights). But it was one team who would strike first in the opening two minutes of the game, and that side would be the Florida Panthers.

On their first power play of the night, Denis Malgin walked into Vegas territory, saucing Vrbata a beautiful one-time pass. Radim sniped a shot over Subban’s blocker and into the goal. Like that, the Cats were up 1-0 and got off to a perfect start.

Three minutes after Vrbata’s goal and the Panthers found the back of the net again. This time, Evgeni Dadonov found an open Michael Matheson from across the ice and immediately sent him a pass. Matheson received the pass, took a few steps in, and quickly wired one over Subban’s blocker and in:

The Panthers two goal lead lasted all but a minute and twenty-six seconds, where the Golden Knights slashed the Cats lead in half.

William Karlsson walked into the Panthers zone and quickly found Reilly Smith up top on the blue line. Reilly then fed Schmidt a pass on the wing, where Nate would snipe the Golden Knight’s first goal.

Just before the period ended with under three minutes left in play, Colin Miller would level up the game. Miller would receive a one-time pass on the point from Jonathan Marchessault, quickly blasting his shot top-corner:

The goal would send the Panthers into the locker room tied at two, signaling the end of the first period. Both sides played an incredibly fast paced period, deserving of a tie by the end of it.

The second period was much like the first, but with each team failing to find the back of the net. Vegas and Florida each returned chances at both ends of the rink, but both Reimer and Subban were there to deny every chance.

The third period was different than both the first and second, in the sense that one team full on dominated the other. That team of course, would be the Vegas Golden Knights. From the moment the puck dropped, Vegas went out and completely man handled the Panthers.

Constant chances were occurring in Florida’s end, with no way out for the Panthers as the Golden Knights were pouring pressure down deep and firing on all cylinders. Eventually the Golden Knights would take their first lead of the night, during the halfway mark in the third.

Erik Haula would not only be responsible for the game’s tying goal, but would also be held accountable for the game’s winning goal, as well:

From there, things only continued to get worse for the Cats as they went on to take three more penalties, and allow two more goals.

Just before the two-minute mark, Jonathan Marchessault added an empty netter and found the back of the net on his former team. Regardless of it being on an empty net, the goal was surely a “Panther killer.” Vegas didn’t stop there, as James Neal recorded his 16th of the year and added a second Vegas empty netter.

The Vegas Golden Knights would go on to win this match 5-2, and head coach Gerald Gallant was able to defeat his former team. Both Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault would combine for 5 points all together (2A for Smith, and 1G, 2A for Marchessault).

Overall, the Florida Panthers played a good two periods, but forgot to show up for the third. Giving credit where credit is due, Vegas completely man handled the Cats in the third, and deserved the hard-earned victory. Your Panthers are back in action on Tuesday, December 19th @ 9:00pm against the Arizona Coyotes