The Florida Panthers 5 game road trip finally came to an end last night, as the Panthers defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. The Panthers came into the game losers of their last 6 games, and never really looked like a team ready to turn the corner in any of those. Last night, in Anaheim, there was a different Panthers team on the ice. Consistent, sustained offensive pressure was the key difference. The forecheck was effective, creating a plethora of turnovers. And David Booth was the man to capitalize on his chances, accounting for all 3 Florida goals.
Craig Anderson was, if nothing else, in net. Often on his back, often swimming through the crease, Andy just managed to get in the way more then make saves. But it worked, and it worked often. The Ducks launched 45 shots on goal, 20 of them coming in the 3rd period. If you're looking for excuses, there are plenty. The Panthers played the night before, the Panthers were on the end of a 5 game road trip, the Panthers had a 2 goal lead and fell into a defensive shell. The win is great, but giving up 40+ shots a night isn't going to get a lot of W's. The end of the story is a much needed, desperately needed Panthers win.
I think I'm developing a small man crush on Keith Ballard. He's been the scrapper, the play maker, the leading scorer, and then some. For a team without a captain, he's starting to look like a leader. Stephen Weiss is also starting to look recovered from his injury, registering 2 assists last night. Still waiting to hear from Nathan Horton on a consistent basis...
The Cats return home Wednesday for a showdown against cross-state rival Tampa Bay. Game time is 7:30.