Letting It All Out

After losing seven straight games and trading key defensive players such
as Dennis Seidenberg and Jordan Leopold in the past couple  of days, the Florida Panthers found a way to
bounce back with a strong offensive showing and a much needed 7-4 win over the
Philadelphia Flyers at the Bank Atlantic Center.

Defenseman Bryan McCabe and star forward David  Booth had stellar four-point
nights with three assists and one goal each, and forward Jason Garrison scored
his first career goal in what was Florida’s first win since January 31.

Before the Panthers were ready to play any hockey, they felt the need to
exorcise some demons first. The frustration over losing time and time again unleashed
what would become three fights in the span of three minutes, with two of them
coming in the first five seconds of the game.

Right after the opening faceoff, Panthers forward Gregory Campbell
fought Flyers forward Ian LaPerriere. Barely two seconds later, the crowd
erupted as forward Nick Tarnasky mixed it up with Philadelphia’s Arron Asham.

However, the most important fight would come three minutes later, when Booth
exacted revenge on Flyers captain Mike Richards.

Unlike the previous two fights,
this one had some background on it. You see, Richards was the one that knocked Booth out on October 25 of
last year with a vicious hit and caused him to miss over two months of action with
a concussion. For Booth, the fight was a way to stand up for himself and set
things right against the opponent that had derailed his season.

“We wanted to come out physical tonight,” Booth said. “That is something that we should
do more often and an identity that we should embrace more.”

The 25-year-old forward called the fights “a normal part of the game” and
fondly cited the chippy clashes between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red
when he was growing up as proof of that. Meanwhile, Panthers coach Pete DeBoer gave Booth “full marks” for
fighting Richards and highlighted the fact that he earned respect from his
opponent by doing so.

Once the lust for blood was out of the way, both teams played an open
style of hockey that led to a seven-goal first period. During those 20 minutes
of action, the Panthers scored four goals in a period for the first time since December
14. Booth, Garrison, Stephen Weiss and Michael Frolik all contributed to turn
a 2-0 Panther lead into an insurmountable 6-3 lead that would all but seal
Philadelphia’s fate.

McCabe said that it was important for the Panthers to win the game on
offense and bail out goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who has been outstanding this
whole season but was just average on Wednesday night making 38 saves and allowing
four goals.

The Panthers now stand five points
behind the last playoff spot, which belongs to the Boston Bruins, and need to
get on a serious roll in the last 19 games if they have any playoff aspirations
left whatsoever.


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