The Florida Panthers came up short in their quest to take home ice advantage away from the Vegas Golden Knights in a 5-2 loss.
The Florida Panthers have been a physical team all season, and they showed it tonight. They also kept this one close until the third period, when they inevitably put themselves into a 4-2 hole and could not claw their way out of it.
While Florida struggled to get anything going in the third, the Vegas Golden Knights capitalized on these mistakes and took a one-game lead in the series. So what caused Florida’s collapse, and how can they rebound in Game 2? Check out the following takeaways.
3 major takeaways from the Florida Panthers’ loss in Game 1
1 – No discipline
The Panthers finished the game with 11 penalties, compared to just five for Vegas. And while Florida scored short-handed in one of those attempts, they totaled 46 penalty minutes. It doesn’t matter how good of a team you are, or how well you have recently played-you aren’t beating anyone if you’re in the penalty box every time you turn around.
Florida’s penalty kill unit allowed two goals in seven attempts, giving them a meager 71.4% on the PK. The Panthers can’t let this happen again in Game 2.
2 – Bad special teams
We already discussed Florida’s PK in the section above, but their own power play did little against goaltender Adin Hill. Overall, the Panthers went 0 for 3 on the man advantage, and they barely got any shots on goal in the process.
In fact, Hill had more saves when Florida was shorthanded (5) than he did when they were on the power play (3). Against a team like Vegas, you have to convert at least one of those plays into a goal. That didn’t happen tonight.
3 – No rhythm in the offensive zone
The Florida Panthers had 16 of their shots blocked, they gave away the puck 13 times, and Vegas took it away 14 times. If the Panthers plan on winning Game 2 and taking away home ice advantage, they need to do a better job with their overall shot selection, and in taking care of the puck. If not, then they will find themselves in a 2-0 hole when this series returns to Sunrise.
Overall, it wasn’t the Panthers’ best game by any means, and they need more discipline from their players if they’re going to struggle when on the PK. Florida also needs to take better care of the puck heading into Game 2 if they want any hope of evening up this series.
(Statistics provided by ESPN.com)