The surging Florida Panthers have claimed victory in six of their past seven games. On Saturday, Florida visited the offensively gifted Calgary Flames squad guided by perennial all-star Johnny Gaudreau, hoping to secure a much-needed victory.
Florida announced Roberto Luongo would receive the start ( his first since December 4th), returning from an incredibly prolonged absence on injured-reserve (groin-related injury).
For the second consecutive game, a moment of silence was held, honoring the fallen victims who unexpectedly passed away during the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In addition, the Flames and Panthers collectively wore stickers on their helmets, and the Cats wore a patch titled “MSD” attached to their jerseys.
The beginning of the game featured grittiness and physical toughness. Micheal Haley and Ryan Lomberg quickly dropped the gloves and engaged in combat. However, the upbeat Cats struck first, courtesy of Michael Matheson’s exceptional wrister.
Matheson’s smooth-skating ability was certainly on display, gliding rapidly from Florida’s blue line to Calgary’s blue line in seconds. Thereafter, Matheson shifted horizontally and roofed a miraculous wrister top-shelf:
Although, the Panthers were eventually called for a completely bogus penalty, which resulted in offensively dynamic defenseman Dougie Hamilton, to equalize on the man advantage for Calgary, evening the score at one apiece.
Following David Rittich’s highlight-reel robbery on Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck eventually capitalized moments later, regaining Florida’s lead (2-1 FLA). Trocheck received a beautiful assist from Barkov, and sliced through two Calgary defenders, tucking a shot underneath Rittich’s arm:
The Calgary Flames continued to take unnecessary, yet costly penalties throughout the course of this back-and-forth scoring affair. Former Panther Michael Frolik gifted Florida with a power play by taking an ill-advised penalty.
The scorching Evgeni Dadonov exploited Calgary’s inconsistent penalty-killing unit, extending Florida’s healthy lead to two (3-1 FLA). Keith Yandle’s slapper was redirected by Dadonov, who accurately deflected the puck from an incredibly difficult angle:
The Florida Panthers continuously applied offensive-zone pressure, creating numerous scoring chances for themselves. Aaron Ekblad’s phenomenal diving effort to preserve the puck within the offensive zone, resulted in Barkov’s spectacular, yet unanticipated goal, extending Florida’s lead to three (4-1 FLA).
Barkov’s heartbreaking goal for Flames fans ultimately spelled the conclusion of Rittich’s night. Jon Gillies would step in to replace the struggling Rittich.
Dougie Hamilton single-handedly attempted to uplift the deflated Calgary group, scoring a power play goal to shorten Calgary’s deficit to two (4-2 FLA). The 2nd period concluded with Florida carrying a commanding/decisive 4-2 lead into the locker room.
The 3rd period commenced with Florida reclaiming a three-goal lead, courtesy of Michael Matheson once again. Matheson’s point-shot found the back of the net, mainly because of Nick Bjugstad’s brilliant screen on Gillies:
Soon after, Jared McCann extended Florida’s lead to four, beautifully redirecting Alex Petrovic’s slap-shot past Jon Gillies (6-2 FLA). With Petrovic’s assist, all Florida defensemen registered one point on the night.
However, Calgary’s relentless pressure offensively finally paid dividends, with Dougie Hamilton recording goal #3 (hat-trick), lessening Calgary’s deficit to three goals (6-3 FLA):
Trailing by three, the Flames continued to apply pressure throughout the course of the 3rd period. Curtis Lazar scored a controversial goal; however, following video review, the officials confirmed that Lazar touched the puck with a high-stick, waving the goal off entirely.
The Panthers claimed a highly contested victory against the potent Flames on the road, adding yet another statement win. Roberto Luongo played brilliantly in his return, and was heavily supported with six goals scored by his club.
The raging Cats have unsuspectedly won seven of their last eight games, and will compete against the dangerous Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, February 18th @ 8:00pm, hoping to continue their winning ways.