Sunrise, Fla. - The Florida Panthers took yet another home game to overtime, coming out on top 3-2 over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Panthers got on the board first, as Sean Bergenheim took the puck over the blue line and made a move around his defender. He then shot the puck wide and got his own rebound, shooting it past Cam Ward to make it 1-0 Florida. The goal, scored 4:16 into the opening frame, was his seventh of the season and third in two games. Ed Jovanovski earned an assist for the first time in 16 games.
Later in the period, the Hurricanes battled back, with Tim Gleason receiving the puck at the left point from his defensive mate, Jamie McBain. He shot the puck past traffic, and scored his first goal since November 17, 2010.
“I got the puck to the net,” Gleason said after getting the puck in the back of the net for the firs time in 97 games, “I guess it went in finally for once.”
After an even first period, the second belonged to the Hurricanes, who outshot Florida 16-4. Still, they only had one goal to show for it, as Chad LaRose stole the puck on the left side from Kris Versteeg, he skated in on José Théodore and ripped a shot past him to give Carolina a 2-1 lead 13:45 into the middle session. It was LaRose’s ninth goal of the season.
The Panthers got reprieve in the third period, as they allowed just two Carolina shots in the frame, getting 10 of their own.
Jason Garrison finally got out of his slump, and over the 10 goal mark for the first time in his career 5:47 into the session. it was his only shot of the game, a hard slap shot from the right point. The shot deflected off Ward’s pads into the net.
After losing Bergenheim to a lower body injury early in the second period, the Cats were dealt another blow, as Versteeg, who was being harassed by the Hurricanes for most of the game, took a cheap shot from Jussi Jokinen 6:44 into the third. Jokinen was assessed a two minute boarding penalty as Versteeg was taken to the locker room for observation. He later returned.
In the final minutes, Versteeg appeared to make it his personal mission to make Carolina pay. With about 15 seconds remaining, Versteeg had a clear shot at the net from the left circle, but it went off the inside of the right post, where Tomas Fleischmann received the rebound in the slot. His shot was saved by Ward, assuring Carolina of a point in the game.
“He made the big save,” Carolina head coach Kirk Muller said. “He was good again tonight.”
With 1:52 remaining in the extra session, The Panthers had possession of the puck. After Dmitry Kulikov’s shot was saved by Ward, Brian Campbell found possession of the puck to the right of the net. He passed it to Stephen Weiss in traffic. After the puck cleared away from him, Versteeg found the puck at the left side with an open net, and made the easy wrist shot to win the game, and giving the Panthers their first win in overtime this season.
“I had a great play on the end on the feed by [Campbell],” Versteeg said. “After the giving the puck away in the second, you feel shamed, basically, it doesn’t feel good but you always try to come back and help the team however you can.”
- Forward Greg Rallo skated in his first NHL game. He is the second Panther in the “Over 30 Club” this season, as he joined Bracken Kearns. At 30 years, 113 days old, he is the third player in franchise history to make his NHL debut at the age of 30 or older. Kearns is about three months older than Rallo, who was called up from San Antonio to replace Jack Skille.
- The Panthers celebrated “Stanley C Panther’s” Birthday. Other mascots from around the league attended the game and participated in activities. NJ Devil, Sparky (New York Islanders), Gnash (Nashville Predators), Thunderbug (Tampa Bay Lightning), and visiting mascot Stormy (Carolina Hurricanes) were in attendance.
- Youngster Matthew Vega, celebrating his Bar Mitzvah, took a ceremonial slap shot before the game began.
- The Panthers and Florida DOT had an alcohol free night, with all non-club areas not offering any alcoholic beverages. Some fans booed the event and complained to event staff and sportswriters.
- The Panthers will practice tomorrow, but it is closed to the public. They return to action on Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes.
- Tuesday’s game will be Hanukkah Night at the BankAtlantic Center, with Hanukkah themed activities throughout the night.