Following Saturday night’s debacle in St Louis, a 7-0 loss, there was no way to go but up for the Florida Panthers. Tuesday night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers saw the Cats thoroughly outplay their opponent but still walk away with a 2-1 loss.
Brayden Schenn and Braydon Coburn each scored fluky, first period goals against starting netminder Tim Thomas three minutes apart, cancelling out a strong start by the Panthers that saw them post 13 shots in the period. Thomas suffered a non-contact injury in the lead up the second goal and was replaced by Jacob Markstrom, whose outstanding play kept the Flyers off the score sheet for the final 52 minutes.
For much of the first two periods, the Cats controlled the run of play, outshooting the Flyers 25-17 (not to mention the dozen or so attempts at that went wide and/or high.) Brad Boyes finally connected on that 25th shot with six seconds left in the second and gave the Panthers some life and even more momentum going into the third period. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they couldn’t get the tying goal across the line over the final 20 minutes.
For the third straight game, the lack of production on the power play was a hindrance. Florida was 0-for-5 on the night, including a four minute chance early in the third. For the young season, the power play is 0-for-16. A stark contrast to the past two seasons that saw the Panthers finish 7th and 6th in the league.
Any chance of a rally was killed over the final nine minutes as the Panthers spent the seven of those minutes on the penalty kill. First, Erik Gudbranson was given a five-minute major for boarding Scott Hartnell. While a boarding call was correct, Hartnell sold an injury long enough to make it a five minute penalty. Not surprisingly, Hartnell was out for the following face off on the Flyer power play. Shortly after killing that off, Ryan Whitney was called for a high sticking penalty. With the 40 seconds left after that kill, the Panthers couldn’t even take possession long enough to amount any last threat at Flyers goalie Steve Mason.
While the level of play is a positive sign, albeit against a struggling team, the power play needs to be fixed for this team to have success. When you’re a team that struggles to score 5-on-5, you have to make hay when a team gives the opportunity to hurt them. It’s still too early to panic. These types of things usually just need time to sort themselves out but this is one of those games that was lost because of it.
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