Talk about sneaking out of town with 2 points... The Panthers beat the Lightning tonight, 4-3, but don't look for any positives to build on out of this one. Somehow, some way, the Cats were able to overcome 2-0 and 3-1 first period deficits thanks to 3 unanswered, 2nd period goals, including a goal as time expired. It was an ugly affair all around, but the final verdict is the important one. 2 points to the good guys.
Watching this one in person, it felt as if the Cats were playing in slow-motion all night. Rarely did it feel like they were putting the Bolts on their heels. Most of the night, actually, it felt like Florida was just treading water, waiting for the next wave to force them under again. Craig Anderson didn't help much in that first period. 3 goals on 11 shots, and probably lucky it wasn't worse. Rebounds were sprayed everywhere, and Florida was in a general state of disarray. In came Tomas Vokoun to the rescue. T-Vo stopped 22 of 22 and seemed to give the Panthers confidence to go forward. A couple of "ugly" goals, and I mean brutal, were enough to get the Cats over the hump and into the win column.
Yea, it didn't feel like a good win, but then again, I'll take a "bad" win over a "good" loss any night. As if the team's play wasn't bad enough, Ville Peltonen looked seriously hurt due to a knee-on-knee collision with Evgeny Artyukhin. Clearly illegal, almost certain intent to injure, yet just a 2 minute minor called? Yea, we scored on it, great. But Artyukhin and the rest of the Lightning were able to skate around in the 3rd with no real threats of a physical presence from Florida. Now I know in a 1 goal game, you don't want to take any stupid penalties. But this is supposed to be your rival, a division game, one of your top line guys getting cheap shotted, and nothing? I can only hope Pelts will be able to return this season, although the way he went off the ice, I'm not holding my breath. We'll see what kind of team shows itself Monday against Buffalo. Maybe Matthias will get recalled..again... he's probably got enough frequent flyer miles by now to fly anywhere free for life.
Don't look now, but the Panthers have jumped into the 8th seed... I don't mean to sound all doom and gloom after a gutty, gritty, ugly win. These are games this team would have lost last season, or hell, maybe even last month. But the fact remains, the Cats haven't lost in regulation since the calender flipped to 2009 (5-0-2). Jay Bouwmeester continues to shine, Tomas Vokoun continues to regain his confidence and grip on that starter's role, Nathan Horton continues to refuse to shoot the puck... SHOOT IT NATHAN!!! Someone needs to kick this guy in the @%$ and get him going, I mean I wanted to jump the glass and do it myself tonight. He somehow managed 3 assists tonight, although 2 of them were second assists, which means he probably just dumped the puck in, but hey, enough negativity for one night, especially a winning night. Monday, the Sabres come to town. As big as a game can get for mid-January. Until then... get well soon, Ville.