Day seven of no hockey. Despite that, and despite the “social distancing” that’s being recommended, the offices of Panther Parkway are open. We’re being careful, mindful of our cleanliness, and are here for you, our loyal fans. Every day!
Today we go back 20 years (wow!) to March 18, 2000 when the Florida Panthers hosted the New York Islanders at the National Car Rental Center. I can’t believe how often I’ve had to keep checking the name of the arena when I’m doing these, but nonetheless, that’s the way it goes.
This was quite the season for the Panthers as they finished with a 43-27-6-6 record in the Southeast Division, with 94 points. They made the playoffs but were swept in four games like a piece of dust by the New Jersey Devils. The Panthers were 6th in the league during the regular season in goals scored, but that dried up when they faced the Devils. Not out of the ordinary for many teams playing New Jersey who took pride in playing a trapping style of hockey that was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Although Jacques Martin instituted a similar style when he was coaching here.
It was also Pavel Bure’s first full season with the Cats, and what a season it was. 58 goals. 3 of them in this game that we’re revisiting (48,49,50). He added 36 assists for a total of 94 points. He had 14 game winning goals, and took a whopping 360 shots on goal! Bure was electric for sure, and was a huge part in the overall success of the team that season.
Also lacing up the skates for the Panthers during this season were the likes of Ray Whitney, Bret Hedican, and Jaroslav Spacek. Mike Vernon and Trevor Kidd protected the goal for most of the year, however the Panthers traded for Mikhail Shtalenkov during the season when Trevor Kidd became injured. The intent was to give him the opportunity to be the number one guy. Unfortunately the rumor was that he said it would be too much pressure on him to take that responsibility. Shtalenkov played 15 games for the Panthers and would never see the NHL again after that season.
Todd Simpson patrolled the blue line, and when I mean patrolled, he had 202 penalty minutes. Paul Laus added 172 penalty minutes and Peter Worrell chipped in 169.
The Panthers won this game by a score of 4-2, with Scott Mellanby adding a goal to the 3 that Bure scored. Mike Sillinger had a 3 point night assisting on 2 of Bure’s goals, and the Mellanby score. Bure added an assist for a 4 point night, and goaltender Mike Vernon made 26 saves for the win.
The Islanders weren’t very good back then. Their roster included some players you might be familiar with: Olli Jokinen, Zdeno Chara, and Kevin Weekes. Mariusz Czerkawski ( I dare you to pronounce that correctly the first time you try to say it) scored his 26th goal of the season for the Islanders, and Brad Isbister would add his 19th. But the Panthers and Bure were just too much for a struggling Islander team.
I tried awfully hard to find highlights of Bure scoring in this game, but couldn’t locate anything. The best I could come up with was a fight between the Panthers Rob Niedermayer and the Islanders Dave Scatchard. Dave lasted quite awhile in the NHL and would be fondly remembered for knocking out Sidney Crosby during one of the outdoor games later in his career. Here’s the replay of the fight:
The Panthers as mentioned went on to the playoffs in that season. They only scored 6 goals in the four games against the Devils, and wouldn’t see the post season again till 2012. All in all though it was a fun season. Bure was a pleasure to watch and made the Panthers exciting to watch.
Thanks for reading.
You can follow along with Panther Parkway @pantherparkway on Twitter! You can also follow our writers: @FrankRekas, @Josh_LOPanthers, @JacobWinans8, @prudentia0, @Spencer_hoag, @Mister_Joester! Make sure to follow and listen to our podcast @LOPanthersPod All images unless otherwise noted are courtesy of @KimSmithImages