ABOUT LAST NIGHT is the morning-after recap of last night’s Florida Panthers game produced by “Hockey Pat” McGrath, a lifelong Cats fan who previously wrote for the Florida Panthers themed blog “TheRatTrick”. It is a followup to Hockey Pat’s hilariously informative gameday article: THE LOWDOWN.
The contents of ABOUT LAST NIGHT and all opinions expressed therein are solely those of Hockey Pat and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Florida Panthers or Sunrise Sports & Entertainment LLC. Having said that, if you find yourself laughing or smiling as you read ABOUT LAST NIGHT, feel free to thank us. We accept thank you notes, tweets and ticket purchases.
ISLANDERS 4, PANTHERS 2
With a 4-2 loss at the hands of the New York Islanders last night, the Panthers bid adieu to their 2013-14 road campaign. The Cats will now return home for their final five games of the season, which starts Friday night against the Calgary Flames.
Here is what you may have missed:
Off to the Races
It did not take long for Jonathan Racine to make an impact. In his very first shift of his very first NHL game, the 20-year-old defenseman dished out a reverberating check to Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck.
Brief aside: Cal Clutterbuck has to be in the top-five for best names in the NHL. He was acquired last summer during the NHL Draft in the trade that sent Nino Niederreiter to the Minnesota Wild. Without a doubt the Cal Clutterbuck for Nino Niederreiter trade is the greatest trade in NHL history in terms of outlandishly awesome player names. Both sound like names Suzanne Collins would bestow on a character from The Hunger Games.
Anyway, the hit was all about timing as Racine got to Clutterbuck right as the puck arrived. Twitter may have loved the hit but the guys in stripes are not as easily pleased, and Racine was awarded a penalty for interference just 44 seconds into the game.
The big hit set the tone for the Panthers, and on the ensuing penalty kill Quinton Howden poked an errant puck past Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan for a shorthanded breakaway. Howden adroitly fired a shot top shelf past Evgeni Nabokov for his fourth goal of the season. Hugs all around!
All told, Racine recorded 15:35 TOI in his NHL debut. He finished at -1 for the game but impressively led the team with four blocked shots.
Howden’s first period shortie was the sixth for the Panthers this season and the Cats' second in two nights as Dmitry Kulikov recorded one on Monday evening against the New Jersey Devils. Howden’s goal gave the Cats shorthanded goals in back-to-back games for the fourth time in team history.
One for Good Measure
While the game was already out of reach, it was nice to see the Panthers end their last road game with a power play goal. The goal went to Brandon Pirri (11) who has demonstrated a wicked wrister often in his 16 games with the Panthers.
Scoring Race Update
The race for the Panthers scoring title is growing tighter than the vocal harmonies on a Local Natives record. With his assist last night, Brian Campbell joined Scottie Upshall and Nick Bjugstad in a three-way tie atop the leaderboard at 35 points apiece. Brad Boyes is right behind the trio with 34 points and there are a number of players within spitting distance of the lead. Here is an update on the race:
Up Next: Bubble Boys
The Cats close out the season with five at home starting this Friday against the Flames. The homestand also features matchups against the Stars, Flyers, Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets. The Stars, Jackets and Riddick Bowe’s favorite team, the Leafs, are all fighting for their playoff lives, so the Cats will have a chance to play spoiler and see how they match up against some truly desperate teams. The Flyers will also have a lot to play for as they are jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference standings. The Flames, meanwhile, have a group of young players who will provide a good measuring stick for the current Cats roster. It should be an exciting few days as the Panthers will have the chance to pop a few bubbles along the way.