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Panthers Pick Up a Point in OT Loss vs. Hurricanes

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Cats Sit Just Six Points Out of Eighth Playoff Spot

Jesse Agler's post-game recap:

Another Panther penalty just 24 seconds into the third period and it was a familar call--hooking. Mike Van Ryn, for the second time tonight, is in time out. With eight seconds left in the penalty, Olli Jokinen is called for...hooking. And so a quick 5-on-3 for Carolina and then some more 5-on-4 time. Even though the Cats' PK has been very solid tonight, the time shorthanded is really stunting their ability to be offensive. That being
said, Van Ryn had his second out-of-the-box brekaway of the night, but missed the net wide when the puck began to roll on his backhand in front of goalie John Grahame.

About six minutes ino the period, Joel Kwiatkowski wound up from inside the blue line and whisteled a slap shot at Grahme, the rebound came right in front, Jokinen was waiting for it, and poked it right in for his 22nd goal of the season. Olli extended his point streak to seven games, but more importantly, this game starts fresh, tied 1-1!

Finally an officiating break for the Cats at 9:02 of the third, as Eric Bellanger tied up Jokinen in front of the net and was called for holding.
Let's see what the Cats can do with their first real power play of the night. 58 seconds later, more good news, as again Jokinen was tied up, this
time at center ice--hauled down, another hold and now 1:02 of 5-on-3 game is alloted to the Cats with exactly 10 minutes left in regulation.

Cats won the draw and set up the 5-on-3 perfectly and had a great chance and for what seemed like a goal, but the refs ruled that the puck was touched
with a high stick and dis-allowed the score. The play is now under review and in this blogger's estimation, the call on the ice will be reversed and the Panthers will have a 2-1 lead. For once, this blogger is right--though Carolina coach Peter Laviolette is absolutely losing his mind on the bench, going nose-to-nose with referee Don Koharski like a baseball manager and an umpire. Regradless, the goal stands and the Cats lead it 2-1 with about 10 minutes left.

Carolina killed off the remaining penalty time, but the 5-on-3 yielded the go-ahead goal and so here we go, strapping in for the remaining time in this period. Canes tied it up and we were off to overtime and for the Panthers this year--not a good thing.

Van Ryn is called for holding at 1:30 of OT and 17 seconds later, goodnight, game over, as Justin Williams netted his 23rd of the year to end the
game--final score, 3-2 'Canes. An important point for the Panthers, as they have now gotten at least one in 11 of 14 games, but still--two would have been preferable. The penalty situation continues to frustrate coach Jacques Martin, who seemed almost beside himself in his post-game meeting with the media.

Regardless, Cats get that important point and wrap up the home portion of their pre-All Star game schedule Thursday night vs. Toronto. We'll be on the air at 7 with Panther Preview, should be a fun atmosphere for the Leafs. Until then..


Jesse Agler's 2nd intermission report:

The middle twenty minutes of this game got off to a decidedly better start than the first, as the Cats were all over the 'Canes the first few minutes. You just know that after what happened last Thursday night in Raleigh, the Panthers would love to come from behind and break some Hurricane hearts. After it took Florida about 10 minutes to get a shot in the first, Carolina
didn't manage to test Belfour until about six minutes in here in the second. Panthers are really controlling play, now just need to squeeze one by John Grahme.

At 7:09, Drew Larman was called for what essentially amounted to a phanton hooking call giving Carolina its second power play of the night. Cats have really had their problems staying out of the box against the 'Canes, going
back to last season. Tonight, though, both calls, especially this last one, could very easily have been no-calls, so hats off to the Panthers for
playing heady so far and not taking dumb penalties.

Panthers able to kill the penalty and can now get back to business and try to tie this game up. Teams continue to trade moderately good scoring
chances, at one point Justin Williams hit the post, but other than that nothing too close for comfort for either goaltender.

Another penalty for the Cats at 13:19, as Mike Van Ryn is hit for a hooking call, the third of the night on the Panthers. Cats killed it off pretty easily, and Ed Belfour made a beautiful pass to Van Ryn when he got out of the box to set up a bit of a breakaway but he had the puck knocked off his stick at the last moment. That seemed to ignite the Cats as they had a flurry of chances, their best of the night--but still, no goals.

With 3:01 left in the second, Chris Gratton was called for a hook right off a face off, but only 15 seconds later, Carolina is finally whistled for an infraction--Cory Stillman for hooking and we'll play some 4-on-4 hockey. All the penalties expired and the Panthers had a huge set of chances in the last minute or so of the period. Cats outshoot the Canes eight to seven but after
two, it's still 1-0.


Jesse Agler's 1st intermission report:

Cats have gotten off to a lot of quick starts at home as of late, tonight, though--not one of those nights. Neither team looked sharp at the start, a lot of quick turnovers and off-the-mark passes. After throwing 54 shots at Washington on Saturday night, the Panthers didn't evne take a shot until almost halfway through the period. Not that Carolina has applied constant pressure, either.

Juraj Kolnik is called for a hooking penalty at 10:29, taking down a Carolina player in the Cats' offensive zone. Didn't take Carolina long to
cash in, either as Scott Walker took a bouncing puck in front of the net and beat Ed Belfour for the first goal of the game just 20 seconds into the power play, 1-0 'Canes.

With the likes of Jozef Stumpel, David Booth, and Gary Roberts out of the lineup tonight (not to mention Todd Bertuzzi), the Cats will certainly be
looking to guys like Olli Jokinen and Nathan Horton to try and win this game. Wouldn't hurt to get contributions from the Chris Gratton and Martin Gelinas type guys, as well--those are the players who always seem to step up when things are looking desperate offensively.

Definitely a slow go for the Cats in the first as far the scoring chances were concerned, but just the one power play goal for Carolina has left the
Panthers well within striking distance, trailing 1-0 after a period. Only 10 shots for Carolina and four for the Cats. I'll be back after the second period, let's hope that things pick up a bit in the next 20 minutes.


Jesse Agler's Pre-game blog:

Well, the Panthers have come a long way since 1993. October 6th of that year was the first game in franchise history, a 4-4 tie in Chicago. The Cats' first win came three nights later, in Tampa, as they shutout the Lightning 2-0. Roger Nielson was the coach, Brian Skrudland the captain, and the team finished with an NHL record 83 points for a first year expansion franchise, finishing just a game below .500 at 33-34-17.

Tonight is game number 1,000. Jacques Martin is the coach, Olli Jokinen the captain, and this team, like the one in 1993-94, is within a paw's distance of a playoff spot. On January 16th, 1994, the Cats were 17-17-8 (42 points in 42 games). Today, on January 16th, 2007, the Panthers enter this evening's game with Carolina at 17-21-9 (43 points in 47 games).

If the '07 guys want the shot at the post-season that the original Panthers just missed out on, they are going to need more efforts like the one they had against Washington Saturday night (a 7-3 victory), and less like the one against these Hurricanes five nights ago (a 6-4 loss after leading the game 3-0 in the third period).

Plenty of time to get things moving and certainly the team is playing its best hockey of the season at this moment. The Panthers come into tonight
just seven points out of a playoff spot, with a ton of games against the teams in front of them. With only three games to go before the All-Star
break, no time like the present to get hot and make up for lost time.

Should be a fun night at the arena, as it really is a blast to think back to that first game, that first team. 1,000 games. Very exciting.

We'll be on the radio beginning at 7 with Panther Preview driven by JM Lexus, puck drops at about 730. Hope to see you out there. Enjoy the game!

Game Preview:

The Florida Panthers are becoming very tough to beat at home.

Florida (17-21-9) looks to stretch its home win streak to five and improve its record against the Southeast Division on Tuesday night when it faces the Carolina Hurricanes (24-18-5).

The Panthers have played much better lately, earning at least a point in 10 of their last 13 games (7-3-3). They've outscored opponents 18-7 during the four-game home winning streak, and have points in six straight (5-0-1) at the BankAtlantic Center.

Florida captain Olli Jokinen has six goals and three assists during a six-game point streak. He also has five goals and four assists in his past four contests against Carolina.

"We're at the point where we can't slip anymore," Jokinen said. "There's only one team that could catch us in the standings and we have 13 in front of us. There's no reason to start looking back now."

Stephen Weiss recorded his first career hat trick and Florida had a season-high 53 shots on goal Saturday in a 7-3 victory over visiting Washington.

"It feels good. I was wondering if I was ever going to get one of those," Weiss said. "It was one of those nights where the bounces went my way. It was a big win and we had a solid game."

All-Star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester had two goals and two assists for the Panthers, who had lost 11 in a row (0-10-1) against Southeast opponents before Saturday. Florida is 3-11-1 against its own division.

Ed Belfour needed to make only 14 saves as the Panthers improved to 6-1-2 in his last nine starts. Florida, meanwhile, is 1-3-1 in Alex Auld's last five games.

Carolina had its three-game win streak snapped Saturday with a 4-3 shootout loss to first-place Atlanta.

"It's always tough when you lose in a shootout because what you were trying to accomplish in the game is over," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette told the team's official Web site. "I like them, I'm in favor of them, but it's tough to lose that way."

Goaltender Cam Ward took responsibility for the loss, blaming himself for allowing Bobby Holik's long goal midway through the third period.

"It cost us the game," Ward said. "It was my fault."

Ward, who made his eighth straight start, has surrendered more than three goals in regulation only once in his last 13 games.

All-Star right wing Justin Williams scored his team-leading 22nd goal Saturday, and 11th in 16 games. Left wing Ray Whitney also scored, giving him two goals and four assists in his past four contests.

Florida won the first meeting of the season with Carolina 6-3 at home Oct. 11, but the Hurricanes have taken the last three. Carolina scored five goals in less than 10 minutes in the third period Thursday to rally for an improbable 6-4 victory over the Panthers.
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