Craig Anderson made his first start in goal for the Panthers on Wednesday against the Atlanta Thrashers. It marked the eighth and final meeting between the two teams this season, with the Panthers winning the last meeting.
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Anderson, however, made a strong showing in his debut and improved his shootout record to 5-0 on the season, four of which came when he started in goal for the Panthers AHL affiliate Rochester Americans.
The Cats jumped out to an early lead when Bryan Allen scored his fourth goal of the season in the first period. Allen scored back-to-back goals for the first time this season, having notched a goal and an assist on Tuesday night. Coincidentally Allen scored his first goal as a Panther back in late October when the Panthers played Atlanta at home, and all four goals have been against Southeast Division opponents this season.
Atlanta however scored two unanswered goals to take a 2-1 lead that lasted into the third period. Slava Kozlov scored both goals for the Thrashers and nearly had a hat trick but one of his goals was waived off in the second period. The Panthers were able to tie up the game in the third on Jozef Stumpel’s 21st goal of the season. Olli Jokinen picked up an assist on the goal extending his five game points streak to six. The game ended in a scoreless overtime and for the second time in as many games the fans at the BankAtlantic were treated to a shootout.
It was Anderson who came up huge at the end of regulation, during overtime and then the shootout, earning him the first star of the game and giving the Panthers the extra point. In the closing seconds of regulation, Anderson made a spectacular pad save to force the extra time. In overtime he slid through the crease on an Atlanta 2-on-1 break meeting the pass and poking it away. In the shootout, he didn’t give up a goal while Jozef Stumpel and Nathan Horton each scored. The Panthers return to the ice Friday night when they host the Washington Capitals as part of Fan Appreciation Weekend.