Panthers, Markström Earn Emotional Win

SUNRISE, FL- The Florida Panthers defeated the New York Islanders 4-2 Saturday night at the BankAtlantic Center. Tim Kennedy netted the game-winning goal, and his first as a Panther, four minutes into the third period and Jacob Markström earned his first win, stopping 18 third period shots in relief of José Théodore. But the biggest story happened off the ice minutes before warmups. David Booth was held off the ice, and minutes later it was announced that he had been traded to the Vancouver Canucks.

Booth,a fan favorite in Florida, along with AHL forward Stephen Reinprecht and Vancouver’s 2013 third-round draft pick will head to last year’s Western Conference Champions. In exchange, the Panthers will receive wingers Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson.

Tallon was upset with the effort the team showed in their previous two games. “We’re in the performance business.-.- We’re not going to sit still and let this fester. I want to send a message. I want to make changes. I want to get better.”

The 26-year-old has plated his entire professional career in the Panthers organization. Drafted 51st overall in the 2004 NHL entry draft, Booth has 87 career goals and 79 assists over 309 games in the NHL. Last year, he played in all 82 games for the first time in his career, scoring 23 goals and adding 17 assists. This season, Booth only has an assist and is minus-six.

“Anytime a teammate gets moved, let along a guy whose been here a long time with you, it’s tough,” longtime teammate Stephen Weiss said. “I came in to see him after warmups and he was already gone. You don’t get to say goodbye, that’s tough.”

“When you lose a guy whose been here so long… that’s never an easy thing,” coach Kevin Dineen said, “We wish him well.”

Tallon also had a message for Booth’s teammates. “If you don’t perform, there’s a good chance you are not going to stay here,” he said, “I’m not going to sit tight and watch two performances like the last two games.”

Message received.

The Panthers got out to a slow start, as a minute into the game Mark Streit took a one timer off the stick of PA Parenteau. The puck found its way from the point to the back of the net to make it 1-0 Florida. It was his first of the season.

After an unsuccessful penalty shot by Tomas Kopecky, the shock of losing Booth seem to wear off and the Panthers were back to their old selves. 14 and a half minutes into the game, Kris Versteeg took a snap shot, which Evgeny Nabokov saved, but the rebound came right back to Versteeg, who poked at it and got the hard-working goal, his  fourth of the year.

Matt Bradley helped out the offensive cause as well. After getting the spark going with a fight late in the first, he scored his first goal as a Panther on a backhand shot seven and a half minutes into the second stanza. The 2-1 Panther lead lasted just 53 seconds, as Jack Skille took a tripping call, putting the Islanders on their second power-play of the night.

Off the faceoff, Streit shot the puck again from the point, but this time John Tavares tipped it home. His sixth goal of the season tied the game at 2.

Théodore allowed two goals on 10 shots in the first two periods, before leaving the game with core issues that were “acting up,” Dineen said. He considered it “precautionary”.

Markström was tested early and often, stopping all 18 shots he faced in the third period. It was up to his offense to turn his effort into his first NHL win.

Four minutes in, Kennedy scored what ended up being the game winner, off of a beautiful pass from Shawn Matthias. Kennedy found himself in the slot with an easy goal past Nabokov.

“I felt like death a couple of days ago,” Matthias said referring to a virus that kept him out of Thursday night’s game, “It’s nice to respond like that.”

The Islanders were on the verge of tying it up when they were offered a 5-on-3 power-play with an empty net, as both Versteeg and Matthias were in the box with a little over a minute left. They could not capitalize and the Panthers cleared just in time for Matthias to skate out of the box and put the easy empty-netter home and give the Panthers the win.

“I’m extremely happy for [Markström],” Dineen said. “This kid can play, and I think he put in a heck of a game for us.”

Florida now travels to Canada for their first visit of the season. They face-off in Montreal Monday night.

MORE ON THE TRADE:
The Canucks also get Reinprecht, who spent half of last season with the Panthers, before being loaned to a German team. This year, he was thought to be a long-shot to make the roster, but was actually among the last cuts in training camp. He was put on waivers, as Tallon hoped an NHL team would give him a chance. However, he was sent to San Antonio in the AHL when no organization claimed him. The 35-year old has plated in 663 career NHL games, scoring 140 goals and adding 242 assists with Florida, Phoenix, Calgary, Colorado, and Los Angeles.

In return, the Panthers get Samuelsson, a 34-year-old right wing, spent the last two season with Vancouver. Last year, he scored 18 goals and added 32 assists for his second straight 50-plus point season. He has a goal and two assists this year, and 135 goals and 179 assists over a 621 game career that spans parts of 12 seasons. Prior to Vancouver, he played with the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and San Jose Sharks. In 2003-05, he played in 37 games with the Panthers, scoring 3 goals and adding 9 assists.

Sturm, a 32 year old left winger is four games away from 900 in his NHL career. Drafted in the first round of the 1996 NHL draft by the San Jose Sharks, he made his NHL debut with the Sharks in 1997-98, playing 74 games and scoring 10 goals adding 20 assists in his rookie season. The 1999 All-Star has 239 career goals and 243 assists. Before joining Vancouver this season, he had brief stints with the Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings last year. From 2005-10 he played for the Boston Bruins, after playing the first seven-and-a-half years with San Jose.

Both Samuelsson and Sturm will join the club in Montreal Monday night. Tallon says he expects no visa problems with the two players.

THREE STARS:

  1. Jacob Markström (FLA) First career W, 18 Sv
  2. Shawn Matthias (FLA) 1 G 2 A
  3. Tim Kennedy (FLA) GWG
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