Panthers Continue Their Roller Coaster Ride

The state of Florida is well-known for roller coasters.

But this is one the Panthers can do without and have been trying to get off of since October 10th.

Minnesota came into Sunrise on November 12th and Panthers took an early lead with two goals 53-seconds apart by Christopher Higgins and Mike Santorelli. Ten minutes later with the Wild on the power-play, Cal Clutterbuck put a wrist-shot past Tomas Vokoun to bring the game within one.

Florida’s defense and goaltender took control from that point on. Vokoun stood tall as they held the Wild to just 23 shots on goal Vokoun as the power-play goal was the only one allowed the Panthers held on to win 2-1 and collect the two points.

The next day the Panthers were at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to take on the Flyers. Mike Richards and Claude Giroux of the flyers would be too much for the Panthers and goaltender, Scott Clemmensen as they recorded two goals apiece in that game.

Cory Stillman got the Panthers on the board at the 12:23 mark of the second period with an even strength marker. Santorelli got his fourth goal on the season on a snap shot setup by Bryan McCabe to get the Panthers within three late in the third period. Special teams hurt the Panthers the most as they provided the Flyers with four power-play opportunities which they capitalized on two of those chances.

In their game against the Thrashers, the Panthers were back to the same style of play that was saw in Sunrise against the Wild. Except in this case, Atlanta opened up the scoring and Florida had to claw their way back into the game. They did just that at the 1:13 mark of the second period as Stephen Weiss tallied his fourth goal of the season. The Panthers then took a 2-1 lead late in the second period with a goal from Radek Dvorak.

The Panthers were definitely more disciplined as they only took one penalty and it was killed off in the second period. Vokoun faced 39 shots in this game, and stopped 38. When only giving up one goal, his offense knew they had to at least get two of their 34 shots past Atlanta netminder, Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec knew his team has been averaging 37.1 shots allowed per game and despite the loss he continued to show his exceptional ability during his comeback since fainting spell on opening night.

Thursday night, the Panthers were in Boston to face the Bruins. Unfortunately, for the Panthers it was the Tuukka Rask and Milan Lucic show.

Florida kept Rask busy all night, but the Finnish goalie stopped 41 shots he faced out of his net. Lucic would keep Tomas Vokoun and the Panthers on their toes at the other end as he recorded the hat-trick. Ex-Panther Nathan Horton had an assist on each of Lucic’s goals.

Panthers forward David Booth would lead the charge as he threw 14 shots on net. The offensive opportunities have been there since coach, Peter DeBoer was able to redirect the team as he started the benching parade.

The Panthers currently have five players with points in the double digits. However, these five players are expected to be the main contributors. If this team wants to become a more consistent force game in and game out they will need to have more secondary scoring from their other lines. Taking advantage of the ice time each player gets is vital for Florida’s current situation.

The Panthers have been outscored 11-6 in the last four games and were still able to pick up two wins over that stretch. While the Panthers still possess the worst power-play they still have one of the top penalty killing units in the league.

The Panthers have a tough stretch in the coming week and are looking to get out of it with something to be thankful for. They will travel to the Nassau Coliseum to face the New York Islanders on Saturday before heading home for a three game home stand against, which starts Monday when the Penguins come to town.

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