Like something out of the movie “300″, a depleted Florida Panthers unit nearly survived a last second onslaught by the Winnipeg Jets only to eventually fall 3-2 by way of a Bryan Little wrist shot with 16 seconds left in overtime.
Even though the Panthers’ winning streak was cut short at two games, the team still recorded a point in their third straight contest and continued a trend of admirable play dating back to last week.
Overall, the Panthers’ played possibly some of their best defense of the season against the Jets on Tuesday night and looked much better than the rag tag turnover machines that we been seeing lately. The defense made much fewer mental mistakes and turnovers which gave way to fueling the Panthers transition game – something they had not been able to do thus far this season. Most impressively, the Florida Panthers held the Jets’ offense to only five total shots in the 1st and 2nd periods combined.
Please excuse me for a second while I express my love to another grown man, but wow! Drew Shore continues to impress and be one of the most noticeable Panthers on the ice every game. Although he has still yet to record his first career NHL goal, Shore once again did everything he could to put the Panthers in a position to win, including gong coast to coast to set up Jonathan Huberdeau for the first goal of the game. At this point, Shore has pretty much made it impossible for management to send him back to the AHL and will most likely remain at the NHL level where I expect him to continue to flourish.
However, even with an improved effort, the Panthers till fell victim to silly mistakes that inevitably cost them the game. An unnecessary tripping penalty by defenseman Filip Kuba on the Jets’ Evander Kane in overtime basically gave the game to Winnipeg and killed all of the momentum the Panthers had carried into overtime. Kuba is currently a +/- -8 on the year, the worst out of any Panther defenseman, and has been had several stand out moments of poor play so far this season. Considering he is both a veteran and under contract for the next two seasons, Kuba is in no danger of being benched – however he could potentially lose his top line pairing with Brian Campbell if his careless play continues.
Although this loss may sting a bit more than others, the Panthers will need to gather themselves quickly as they head to Philadelphia to play the Flyers on Thursday night. Last time the Panthers and Flyers met, the Cats were crushed by a final score of 7-1 and will look to avenge such an embarrassing loss that is still fresh in their memories. The puck drops on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. on FOX SPORTS Florida.
- Although he rejoined the team in Winnipeg, defenseman Erik Gudbranson was a healthy scratch from Tuesday night’s game. However, it is more than likely that Gudbranson will make his season debut in Philadelphia on Thursday night against the Flyers.
- Brian Campbell continued to carry a heavy load for the Florida Panthers’ defensive unit, clocking in just over 30 minutes of ice time on Tuesday night. Campbell’s ability to play excessive minutes on a questionable Panthers’ blue line has been one of the biggest factors to the Cat’s recent success.
- Backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen was average at best during Tuesday night’s game stopping 18 of 21 shots. Clemmenen’s stats thus far (4.00 GAA / .845 SV%) have been rather abysmal and with Jacob Markstrom biding his time in the AHL, Clemmensen could eventually play himself out a job.
- Defenseman Keaton Ellerby had several bad turnovers on the evening and ended up with a +/- -2 rating for the game. Considering the consistently good play of Tyson Strachan, Ellerby could end up being the odd man out when team Captain Ed Jovanovski returns from injury.