Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Panthers 4 - Leafs 3 (OT)

Larceny! Burglary! Robbery! Theft! Someone stop the Panthers at the border, they just stole 2 points from the Toronto Maple Leafs. For the first time this season, the Cats went into the 3rd period trailing and came away with 2 points. The game may as well have been called the Cory Stillman show. He had a beautiful assist on the Panthers 2nd goal, which drew Florida to within 1. Then, Stillman was in perfect position to slam home the rebound in the final minute to send the game to OT. That goal came during a 6 on 4 power play, the first and only power play for the Cats during the game. Fittingly, it was Bryan McCabe who got the game winner in OT. McCabe, who was booed heartily all night, came in with Horton on a 2-on-1 and opted to take it himself, ripping a slap shot seemingly through Toskala.

Tomas Vokoun was scheduled to start. Even through the pre-game warmups, all indications were that Vokoun would be in net. Until the sickness kicked in. Out came Craig Anderson to start the game. He was shaky, at best, the first two periods. All 3 goals, Andy probably should have been better on. A couple awful rebounds led to easy Leafs goals. But then came that deciding, final period. Anderson finally found his legs. Not only did he stop all 13 shots he faced, he made an incredible pad save against Jason Blake that tore his helmet clean off his face. It was a 3-1 game at that point, and had Blake scored, you could have tied a bow on the rest of this one. Instead, Andy kept it out, and the rest is history. Good job, Andy. When the Cats needed you most, you came through.

These kinds of games are going to happen, and it's a real confidence boost to come out on the positive side. Florida didn't exactly out play Toronto. They weren't the more deserving team. They didn't out chance or out shoot the Leafs. But they were given a chance in the 3rd period to come back, and they took full advantage of it. During these last 30 games or so, Florida will run up against a hot 'tender. They won't always play their best. But to know that they can still manage to scrape out a win is huge. The Cats return home Thursday to take on the Islanders. It should be a cheery plane ride home, getting away from the cold and gloom of Canada, coming home to beautiful South Florida, and looking forward to exacting some revenge on those Islanders. Now, can someone just find a cure for the flu so we can get Vokoun and David Booth back?

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