|Forwards Marcel Goc and Tomas Kopecky celebrate Goc's goal 33 seconds into the second period which started the Cats comeback from down 2-0 to win 4-2. (Getty Images) |
The Panthers found themselves in a familiar place following the first period of Sunday night’s game against the Senators: trailing after one period of play.
For the third time in the last four games and the sixth time in the last eight, Florida has given up the first two goals of the game.
While the Panthers might not have heard the boos coming from the stands while skating off for the first intermission, they certainly heard the between-periods speech. One can only imagine what was exactly said in the locker room during those 17 minutes. But there were some clues divulged following the Panthers 4-2 victory.
“When you get as thoroughly outplayed as we did in the first period, I think there has to be some kind of a response,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “We went in and had a little chat. I think they understood that there wasn’t going to be any change in the way we were going to play our systems or I wasn’t going to shake up the lines. It was basically going to come from within.”
“(Coach) just said got to go out there and look across the way and each of us have to outwork the guy across from us,” said forward Krys Barch who scored the equalizer 2:21 into the second on a breakaway. “I think we took that there and we brought it in and implemented it for the second.”
The Panthers came at the Senators from the start of the period and it showed in scoring three goals to take the lead away. Florida outshot Ottawa 14-8 in the second period alone.
“Obviously we weren’t happy so we got a little bit of a kick in the butt and got us going a little bit,” said center Stephen Weiss
of the intermission talk. “That goal at the first shift of the second was big. It got us right into it and we were rolling from there.”
"Our competition level after the first period stayed the same and theirs obviously elevated to a higher level," said Sens head coach Paul MacLean to the media. “Instead of raising our competition level as the game went on to meet theirs, we got frustrated."
After Marcel Goc
scored 33 seconds in and Barch tied it at two, Weiss set up Mikael Samuelsson
for the eventual game-winner with the Cats on a power play. Forward Jack Skille
added an insurance goal in the third. For the Panthers, it was their third time in the last six games in coming back from a two-goal deficit (also against Carolina and Montreal).
“Unfortunately sometimes we come out a little flat. I don’t know why that is but we’e been trying really hard to come out with a lot of push in the first period,” said Skille following the game. “I think right now, we’re just going to stick with our character and work hard and work through these things and hopefully we can play a full 60 minutes next game.”
Points down the stretch get harder to come by and a loss to the Senators would have been a blown chance to pick up ground on the rest of the Southeast. Luckily, the speech, along with the Panthers' play in the second and third gave the Panthers another two important points in moving to four points up on the Jets and five points on the Capitals.
While speeches are great for short runs, if the Panthers hope to continue their playoff push, they have to find a way to not continue to get down early. It’s tough sledding when you have to continually come back from deficits. The intermission speech isn't always going to do the trick.
“I wish I knew,” said Samuelsson of giving up the game’s first two goals. “That’s what we have to figure out these days. We have two, three days off. Get the energy back a little bit. No excuses. We have to obviously play for 60 minutes."
“We knew we had three days in between games here and we didn’t want to sit thinking about ‘woulda, coulda, shouldas’ there for those three days,” said Barch. “We come in here every day and we look at those standings. We know Washington (was) only three points behind and Winnipeg is right behind us. We know we can’t let these slip away.”