If the first period was an indication of how the night was going to be for the Florida Panthers, then most fans were preparing for a blow out. The San Jose Sharks came out with a feverish, spirited first 20 minutes that saw why the Shark offense is one of the most feared in the NHL. And to be quite frank the Sharks probably should have walked out of the first period with more than a two goal lead. But the Panthers muscled their way to a 3-2 OT win over the Western Conference’s best team.
Sharks winger Ryan Clowe scored at the 5:32 mark of the first period to give San Jose the early lead. Clowe scored on a little bit of miscommunication by Panther rookie Jason Garrison who failed to attack the shooter to play a man in front of the net. Sharks leading goal scorer Patrick Marleau extended that lead with his 41st of the year off a beautiful one time shot on the power play at the 17:45 mark.
The main topic of discussion during the intermission must have been physicality. The Panthers came out booming in the second period and dominated in hits and physical play from that point on. This style of play has been the one constant in every game they’ve won since the Olympic break.
“The first period, it looked like men with boys,” Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. “Then we found our legs and got our game going and thought we did a good job coming back against arguably the best team in the league.”
Panther defender Keith Ballard took a fantastic cross ice feed from Panther forward Radek Dvorak and buried it behind Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss to put the Panthers on the board a mere 1:02 into the second period. Panther forward Shawn Matthias would later tie the game on a turn around backhand in between the face off circles 5:01 into the third period. Matthias had his best game of the season, perhaps even his Panther career. He was strong on the puck, skated hard and used his size to his advantage. He has the potential to be a very dangerous number two center in this league and should use every opportunity to his advantage the remainder of the season if he wants to be a part of the “Randy Sexton” solution for next year.
The game would stay tied till the OT session when Bryan Allen shot a wrister with eyes towards the net courtesy of an offensive zone face win by Matthias. Allen’s shot found its way between Greiss’ legs and sealed a 2-1 road Western Conference road trip for the Cats.
MENTORS: Panther defensemen Bryan Allen, Bryan McCabe and Keith Ballard have been doing their fare share of work on the ice and showing the rest of the young Panther defense how its done. Logging 27:01, 25:34 and 25:16 worth of ice time respectively, is nearly 10 minutes more per game than rookies Jason Garrison and Dmitry Kulikov have been playing. And with Coach Pete DeBoer opting to use Panther’s 6th defenseman Keaton Ellerby only 35 seconds in last nights game it looks like the top 3 are going to be seeing these kind of minutes every night.
VOKOUN: Panther goalie Tomas Vokoun was named the first star of the game stopping 37 of 39 shots. He has continued to be the MVP of this team and you have to wonder what his stats and win totals would like a team like the Sharks or the Capitals.
UP NEXT: The Panthers return home to take on the Washington Capitals, Tuesday March 16th at 7:30 PM.
IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW: Tobias Funke aka Mrs. Featherbottom. Good Lord, Arrested Development is hilarious.
About the Author
Written by Jack Powell
My name is Jack Powell. I'm 26 and work for a civil contracting company in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I've been a Panther fan since the team was formed in 1993 and don't ever plan on not being one. Looking forward to see what new Panther GM Dale Tallon is going to do to rebuild this franchise and make us a Cup contender!!