Sunday, December 14, 2008

Panthers 3 - Canucks 5; Can't Win 'Em All

The Panthers ended their 4 game Canadian swing with a hard fought 5-3 loss in Vancouver tonight. The Panthers actually jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first 7 minutes of the game, first from a Nick Boynton shot that somehow found its way through bodies and legs and Canucks' goaltender Corey Schneider, then Jay Bouwmeester put a rebound past a scrum of people in front of the net for the 2-0 lead.

Then Vancouver woke up. Pulling within 1 with just under 5 minutes left in the game on a Darcy Hordichuk (remember him?) wrist shot as Keith Ballard hobbled around on 1 leg after blocking an earlier shot (definitely thought the play should have been blown dead when Florida got control of the puck, but it wasn't, and they turned it over, and they scored).

The 2nd period was all Vancouver. Pavol Demitra took advantage of a horrible Karlis Skrastins mistake behind his own net, then a 3 goal in 2:08 stretch put the game out of reach. Michael Frolik gave the Cats a brief glimmer of hope with his 3rd of the year, but it wasn't to be.

Give Florida credit. Take out that 2+ minute stretch, and Florida outplayed Vancouver for long stretches of the game. Granted, the Canucks may have been sitting back a bit in the 3rd, but Florida didn't go away. One thing that became obvious in this game, Florida has become a team. Maybe it's the long road trips, maybe its the recent winning streak, but this team has come together. 5 unanswered goals is as good a reason as any to pack it in, but Greg Campbell said no way, and took on perpetual PIM leader Shane O'Brien in a good fight. As the 2nd period horn ended, Radek Dvorak took a late hit, and the rest of the team was right there, pushing, shoving, sticking up for each other, letting Vancouver know the 3rd period wouldn't just be a walk through. Good stuff. Maybe the Panthers should just wait til the 3rd or OT before taking a lead...

5 goals against, and not really any of them fall in Craig Anderson's lap. The first one was just a great shot, maybe Andy was out of position an inch or 2, but oh well. Then Skrastins gives one away, one deflects in off J-Bo's skate, a shorthanded breakaway, a superb one-timer out of mid-air, nothing you can do.

Looong flight back to South FLA after tonight's game, but no reason to feel glum on the plane ride. 3-1-0 leaves me with no complaints. Unfortunately, there could be bad news. Just as the Panthers welcome back Cory Stillman, Stephen Weiss left the game with an "upper body injury," and went to the local hospital for X-rays. Sigh. A few days off will do everyone some good. The Panthers cap off this road trip Thursday night in Carolina before finally returning home. Until then...

No comments: