Over the past week the Florida Panthers have shown signs of breaking out of this repetitive type of play. When the offense is playing at the level they are capable of, it reflects on what this team is really made of, if only it can stay consistent with the style needed to succeed.
It had started out that way as the New York Rangers came into the Bank Atlantic Center on Nov. 26th even though Florida suffered a 3-0 loss.
The Panthers offense generated 40 shots, but Henrik Lundqvist stopped them all for his third shutout of the year.
“I changed my stance a little bit,” Lundvqist told the Associated Press. “I came back to how I used to play a little bit higher stance and my timing was better.”
The Rangers were held to just 19 shots on goal, including being outshot by Florida 15-5 in the first and 16-6 in the third. Scott Clemmensen was not tested much throughout the game. But when he was, he was not able to come up with those timely saves.
Rookie, Derek Stepan got the Rangers on the board 10:06 into the first period generated by a three on two rush into the Florida zone. The next goal didn’t come until Ryan Callahan’s tally at 5:24 of the third period. Callahan deflected a pass in front from Erik Christensen past Clemmensen to increase their lead to two on the power play. Nine minutes later, Brandon Prust scored his first goal of the year on another Rangers power play to put the Panthers away for good.
The next night the Panthers traveled north to Tampa to visit the Lighting. Things did not start well for Florida as they fell to a 2-0 defecit against its in-state rival by the midway mark of the second period. Teddy Purcell recieved a pass in front from Bolts superstar Steven Stamkos and put the puck past Tomas Vokoun on the power play to put the Lightning up 1-0. A well defended rush by Tampa in their own zone created an odd man rush going the other way and Dana Tyrell put a rebound into an empty net as Vokoun was out of position after making the first save on Mattias Ritola to make it 2-0 Bolts.
The tides began to turn, starting with a penalty shot awarded to Radek Dvorak and he capitalized on after he was tripped by Pavel Kubina short-handed. This momentum shift carried into the third period as Florida not only tied the game with a goal by Dmitry Kulikov but took the lead at the 8:31 mark on a goal from Shawn Matthias.
The Lightning added a goal of their own at the 13:15 of the final stanza to tie the game back up at 3-3.
This was the Panthers first game that went past regulation in the 2010-11 season as the tie held up through the five minute overtime and moved to a shootout. The shootout went four rounds, and only goal that was made was from Stephen Weiss in the top half of that round. Martin St. Louis was the last shooter for the Lightning and Vokoun completed the shootout stopping all four shooters.
Florida then traveled out to California to face the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings on back to back nights and the same pattern continued from the previous two games against New York and Tampa Bay. The Ducks got ahead early and never looked back as Florida did not begin to surge until the third period. Mediocre offensive production and a defense that was unable to assist Vokoun resulted in a 5-3 loss for the Panthers.
Last night in Los Angeles, the Panthers game out with some fire against a Kings team that is also having difficult producing offense. Florida was leading, 2-1, going into the third period and a rejuvenated Kings team came out of the locker room with an early game-tying goal at the 2:36 mark.
Less than 15 minutes later off the face off that the Panthers won but were unable to clear the zone; Anze Kopitar tallied what was the game winner in a 3-2 win for the Kings.
As we look ahead, the roster freeze is roughly two weeks away and do not be surprised if the Panthers make a move for improvement; however, it will not be a big enough move to make a splash. Being four games under .500 and nine points out of a playoff spot with 58 games left in the season, now is not the time to be pressing the panic button.
The Panthers will finish off trip out west Saturday in Phoenix to take on the Coyotes. They will return for one game on Dec. 7th against the Avalanche as it is throwback to ’96 night. After that the Panthers will travel to Washington D.C. to take on the Capitals.