The Florida Panthers played one of their worst defensive period under Joel Quenneville on Monday Night, losing in humiliating style at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks.
Joel Quenneville’s furious expression as the Florida Panthers retreated to the locker room after the 1st period said it all. Frustration, disappointment, anger, all things that the Panthers hadn’t experienced too much of over the last two weeks, with the team riding an eight-game point streak going into this game.
However, when the Panthers have to pull goalie Sam Montembeault after barely 6:00 of play, it’s typically not a good sign.
The Canucks, fresh off losing 6-5 after holding a 5-1 lead to the Capitals, had their minds set on redemption on Monday Night. On their first shot, Vancouver found the back of the net. Michael Ferland’s nifty backhand pass split the Cats’ defense, finding Brandon Sutter for his third goal of the season.
This was the earliest goal Vancouver had scored all season, with their second earliest coming on the next goal. At 4:25, they bagged another. Goalie Montembeault had a miscommunication issue with defensemen Josh Brown and Keith Yandle, leaving the puck behind. Vancouver got to it first, and Tim Schaller scored his fourth goal in three games to give the Canucks a 2-0 advantage.
With Florida struggling, Vancouver continued to pound on the Cats’ struggling goalie. Bo Horvat‘s weak shot was parried by Montembeault when it should’ve been held, and Jake Virtanen beat everyone to the loose puck, getting his and the team’s third goal, 3-0 Vancouver after just 6:18.
For Quenneville, that was enough of Montembeault, with Sergei Bobrovsky, after barely 24 hours of rest, replacing him (for the time being).
Shortly after he came in, Florida found a way back into the game. Jayce Hawryluk forced a turnover from Ferland, feeding Brian Boyle in behind, quickly firing a wrist shot past Thatcher Demko to the far post, shortening the deficit to two.
For Boyle and Hawryluk, it was their third point in their last two games, including Boyle’s second goal in two games. With that, despite the Panthers’ incredibly slow start, they did have a way back into the game.
The Panthers wouldn’t take advantage of that opportunity, and soon enough found themselves down by three again. J.T. Miller walked in uncontested, unleashing a bullet into the top shelf past Bobrovsky for his 100th NHL goal. There are times where that kind of shot can be admired, it was a really nice goal from a Vancouver perspective. From a Florida perspective, it was all too easy for someone like Miller to score a goal like that.
With less than a minute to go in the first (yes, we’re still in the first), Alex Edler’s shot was blocked, but Ferland yet again was the first to the loose puck. Ferland yet again centred the puck across the slot, and Josh Leivo claimed his second goal of the season to send the Canucks into the first intermission leading 5-1.
It was such a dry first period for Florida. While it’s easy to blame the goalie or the defense, I want to call out Joel Quenneville for his approach tonight. This Vancouver team is really young, they play with a lot of energy and speed, yet Florida thought they could win by playing slower. The Panthers weren’t well set up from the get-go, and it showed.
After the intermission, Sam Montembeault returned to the net for Florida, likely giving Bobrovsky more rest for Wednesday night’s game vs Colorado.
Both teams seemed extremely dried out at the start of the second, but eventually, Florida got a consolation goal. After Edler tripped Evgenii Dadonov to put the Panthers on the power play, the Cats took advantage. Mike Hoffman broke an eight-game scoreless streak with a searing slap shot into the top shelf, leaving Demko no chance, reducing the deficit to 5-2.
This put Hoffman onto six goals on the season, level with Dadonov’s tally for the most goals on the team. While it came nowhere near an attempted comeback, it gives Hoffman some confidence going forward.
Vancouver scored yet again in the final minutes of a period as period number two came to a close. With four Panthers watching Elias Pettersson, the young Swede fed Edler, whose drive from the point was re-directed in by J.T. Miller, ultimately ending Florida’s hopes of a comeback.
In a relatively quiet third period, Vancouver bagged the lone goal. Pettersson got the puck out in front, and Brock Boeser tapped his fourth of the season past Montembeault, making it 7-2.
Not a lot happened from a Florida perspective. Jayce Hawryluk hit the post off a feed from Brett Connolly and captain Aleksander Barkov came up injured after a play on the boards. Barkov wound up playing two more shifts before the game ended.
With the loss, Florida fall to 1-1-1 on this western road trip. The Cats will have a chance to redeem themselves Wednesday, as the Panthers head to the Mile High City to face the Avalanche for the final time this season. Colorado took the away leg 5-4 in OT.