The Panthers just played the best 60 minutes of the season against the conference's top team, and in their barn, no less. Craig Anderson was impressive again, making Tomas Vokoun looking like the league's most expensive backup. Anderson has already been given the start Tuesday against Washington, and why not. He's one of the best save percentage goalies in the league and just handed the Broadway Blueshirts their first shutout of the year. Maybe this will even inspire Vokoun to step his own game up.
After a competitive, scoreless first period, the second stanza proved to be pivotal, and Ville Peltonen took full of advantage of a Rangers mishap. First, it looked like he'd be coming in 2 on 1 until the Rangers defenseman simply tripped over the blue line, and Peltonen took the breakaway himself and fired a wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist. This came just after Peltonen had another breakaway the Lundqvist stopped. Usually, a huge save by a goaltender leads to a goal on the other end, but the Panthers were having none of it. 2 goals in a 12-second span later and Lundqvist was yanked, but the damage had been done. A beautiful rebound, backhand goal from Michael Frolik, following up on a Stephen Weiss shot, capped the scoring for the Panthers.
The Cats have been without their expected scoring leaders for a number of games now, but that has only made the secondary players step up. Peltonen, Weiss, and Frolik all chipped in today. The Panthers have played their best hockey over the last week, going 2-0-2. The work ethic has been incredible. Even the MSG network announcers were taking notice. A loose quote I remember went something like this; "This isn't an overly physical team, but they will work you for every puck. As soon as a Ranger gets control of the puck, there was a Panther pressuring him, forcing turnovers. They're quick and they're relentless." That's the way the Panthers have to play in order to win games, relentless. They aren't a big team, they aren't a flashy team. They need to be aggressive to the puck and then capitalize on the chances they get. They were superb this afternoon. Imagine what might happen if this team actually gets healthy.
Speaking of health, it's time for the daily, post-game injury report. This time, it's David Booth visiting the trainer's room. Luckily, he called it a minor injury and sounds like he won't miss much time. Officially listed as questionable for Tuesday, we can't afford to lose too many more goal scorers. That said, the Panthers scored more then 3 goals today for the first time since November 12th, and for only the 4th time this season. Great game today, let's hope they can keep this run going a little longer.