After what has been a bumpy ride for the Florida Panthers, they have straightened out their track as they have won three games in a row and they game three different ways.
The Panthers closed out their west coast road trip Last Saturday in Phoenix to face the Coyotes. A high level of shots came from both clubs; however, few were let in as it was a game of the goaltenders. Scott Clemmensen for Florida and Ilya Bryzgalov of Phoenix were impenetrable until the second period rolled around.
Michael Frolik put the Panthers ahead at the 10:06 mark of the middle stanza after a superb fore-check by his line mates providing the scoring chance. With the Coyotes on the power-play late in the period, Michael Hanzal deflecting a shot off the faceoff past Clemmensen to tie the game at 1-1 at 16:04.
Both goaltenders came out standing tall in the third period and in overtime and the game remained tied at 1-1 heading into the shootout. Clemmenson stopped Lauri Korpikoski in the top half of the fifth round and Michael Frolik started by skating out to his left and shifted to the backhand, sliding it underneath Bryzgalov for the 2-1 win in a shootout.
Two days later, the Panthers were back home to take on the Colorado Avalanche as they flashed back to the ’96 Stanley Cup Finals between these two clubs.
Panthers and Avalanche turned it into a continous battle throughout the entire game.
Florida right winger Bill Thomas got the Panthers on the board early at the 3:08 mark of the first period with a tip in past Avalanche goaltender (and ex-Panther) Craig Anderson.
Colorado came back with two of their own calls from John-Michael Liles and Ryan O’Reilly to gain a 2-1 advantage. Just 1:16 later, the Panthers knotted the game up with a goal from Stephen Weiss and headed into the second intermission tied at 2-2.
Just 1:59 into the final stanza, Avalanche youngster Matt Duchene put his team ahead 3-2. Less than three minutes later David Booth tied the game at 3-3. The game remained tied at the end of regulation and would head into overtime. It only took the Panthers 43 seconds when Stephen Weiss’ wrist shot went past Anderson to give the Panthers a 4-3 victory.
Last night, the Panthers traveled to the nation’s capital to take on superstar winger Alex Ovechkin and rest of the Capitals at the Verizon Center.
Florida provided Washington with eight power play opportunities but they were not able to cash in as Tomas Vokoun stopped all 17 shots while short-handed (and 36 total on the night) and the Panthers killed off all eight Capitals power play opportunities.
The Panthers began to tighten up defensively and became more disciplined throughout the second and third periods. This provided Florida with more time on the offensive as they recorded a total of 32 shots on Capitals goaltender, Semyon Varlamov.
Though, the Panthers were handed their fair share of power play opportunities they didn’t get hurt by not capitalizing on the man advantage as they scored three even strength goals.
Florida got their goals from Frolik, Steve Bernier and Mike Santorelli that led to their third straight victory.
This team has got character and they are building the confidence needed.
“That means we can beat anybody in this league,” Frolik said to the Associated Press. “I think that’s important for our confidence.”
The Panthers will attempt to get their current winning streak to four when they travel to Nashville to face the Predators Saturday night. After that they will be back on home ice at the Bank Atlantic Center to take on division rival Carolina on Wednesday.