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Panthers Pick Up Point in Colorado

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

Cats Head to Minnesota After 5-4 OT Loss vs. Avalanche

Goldie's post-game recap:

It was thriller a mile high in Denver on Tuesday night. The Panthers had leads of 2 goals twice and led 4-3 with a minute to go. But 2 penlaties in the final minute by Bryan Allen and Ville Peltonen gave the Avalanche power play time. They tied it with 37 seconds left and Joe Sakic won it in overtime. A heartbreaking loss to say the least as the Panthers dominted the 1st 40 minutes. But in the 3rd they were outshot 17-4, outworked by the line of Ian Laperrierre, Brett MacLean and Tyler Arnason. Those 3 started the comwback as the Panthers let the lead slip away. The Cats have been in this position all too often, losing leads in the 3rd period. They just could not sustain the offensive pressure they had for the first part of the game. They also lost the special teams battle as Colorado went 2-7 and the Panthers went 0 for 3. A game the Panthers should have won going away instead turned into an overtime loss. Chris Gratton had a goal and 2 assists. Other Panther scorers were Jokinen, Stumpel and Horton. Next up, Minnesota Thursday night. 7:30 airtime on WQAM.

Goldie's 2nd intermission blog:

Panthers kept the pressure on in the 2nd again outscoring the Avalanche 2-1. The lead going to the final period is 4-2. Panthers got goals from Chris Gratton and Jozef Stumpel. Gratton also has 2 assists tonight. The Cats are playing a high energy offensive game and have been solid on their forecheck. They will need to keep the intensity up in the 3rd. Olli Jokinen has been strong with a goal and an assist. With other teams in the East winning tonight the Cats need to close this one out and grab the 2 points. Through 40 minutes they are doing a super job here in Denver.

Goldie's 1st intermission blog:

Great opening period for the Panthers here in Denver. Cats lead 2-1 on goals by Olli Jokinen, his 23rd and Nathan Horton's 16th. Panthers fired 16 shots on goal and could easily lead by more than a goal. Most of the shots were scoring chances. After falling behind 1-0 they did not change the way they were playing and kept the pressure on. Jokinen's goal came off of a rebound of Chris Gratton's shot that hit the post. Gary Roberts , back in the line-up for the 1st time since December 29th, got an assist as well. Jokinen also set up Gratton on a 2 on 1 that was stopped by Jose Theodore. The Panthers captain has come out flying tonight.

The 2nd score was a great shot by Horton who Beat Theodore high. The shot was set up by Ville Peltonen who dug the puck out along the right boards and fed Horton. The necessary energy and intensity stated in the pre-game blog is clearly evident in the Panthers' game so far.

Goldie's pre-game blog:

Hello from mild Denver, CO. While it's FREEZING in most of the midwest, we have a beautiful day here. And it's a big night for the Florida Panthers. The Cats were whipped at home Saturday night and need a big effort vs. the Avalanche. The team usually comes back well from losses.

These two road games are huge, at Minnesota Thursday, as the Cats try and make up ground in the playoff race. They'll get a boost tonight with Gary Roberts coming back in the line-up. His emotion and toughness in front of the net will be welcomed. Colorado is not the powerhouse it once was but captain Joe Sakic is still here and the Avs are still a solid team.

The Panthers need to play a smart game and play with emotion and urgency to get out of here with 2 points. Ed Belfour will go again in the cage tonight. radio only tonight...Moller is rarin' to go at 8:30 on QAM. More blogging as the game unfolds.

Tonight's game notes:

WESTWARD BOUND: The Panthers open a two-game road trip tonight when they take on the Colorado Avalanche, followed by a game against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday evening. After Thursday's game, the Panthers will not travel outside the Eastern time zone for a road contest, with the remainder of their travel taking place within the Eastern Conference.

PLAYING THE AVALANCHE: The Panthers meet the Avalanche tonight for the only game between the two clubs this year. The two teams did not play one another last season and the Cats dropped the only meeting between the two teams in 2003-04 a 6-5 loss in South Florida on Jan. 21, 2004. The last time that the Panthers travelled to Colorado they picked up a 4-1 win on Jan. 2, 2003. LW Gary Roberts has tallied 31 points (18-13-31) in 26 games against the Avalanche.

CONTROLLING THEIR OWN DESTINY: The Panthers have many more opportunities to climb in the Eastern Conference standings. Florida will play their Southeast division foes 13 more times including five games with their intrastate rival the Tampa Bay Lightning.

NHL DEBUT: D Martin Lojek who was recalled from the Rochester Americans (AHL) on Saturday made his NHL debut that same night against Los Angeles, logging 12:32 of ice time. Prior to being recalled he played in 41 games with the Amerks scoring four goals with ten assists. He became the eight different Rochester player to dress for the Panthers this season.
NEW ASSISTANT GM: Florida Panthers GM and Head Coach Jacques Martin announced on Jan. 26 that he has hired former Ottawa Senators General Manager Randy Sexton as the Panthers new Assistant General Manager. Sexton spent the last three years as the Executive Director of Capital Sports Management Inc. (CSMI), a sister company to the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club. In December, 1990, Sexton was named the first CEO of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club, one week after the NHL granted Terrace Investments a franchise and later became the team's General Manager.

SPREADING THE WEALTH: Three times this season, at least nine Panthers have recorded one point in a game. In Florida's 6-3 win over Washington, 11 different Panthers recorded at least one point. In the Cats 7-3 win over Washington on Jan. 13, 12 different Panthers scored at least one point. Against the Canadiens on Dec. 28, nine different Panthers recorded a point with three different goal scorers and six different players receiving a point for an assist.

OUTSHOOTING THE OPPONENT: The Cats held Washington to 17 shots on Jan. 13 and 18 shots on Jan. 20. Florida held Toronto to only 19 shots on Jan. 18. Meanwhile, the Panthers recorded a franchise-high 55 shots against Washington on Jan. 13 and 42 shots at Washington on Jan. 20. Florida had 41 shots on goal against Toronto on Jan. 18 and 32 Saturday night against New Jersey. Florida's defense has given Panthers G Ed Belfour three games this season with little work. Jan. 20 against Washington, the Cats defense held the Caps to only 18 shots on goal and one week prior Florida held the Cats to only 17 shots on goal. It was the second lowest shot total against Florida this season. The Panthers held Buffalo to a season-low 16 shots on goal on Dec. 14 and Dec. 16, Florida held Boston to 21 shots on goal. Dec. 26 against Carolina, the Cats held the Hurricanes to only 17 shots in 65 minutes.

OLESZ SCORES, PANTHERS WIN: Panthers LW Rostislav Olesz has scored in eight different games this season and has 10 total goals. In all eight games in which he has scored, the Panthers have picked up at least one point. Overall, Florida is 7-0-1 in games which Olesz scores. The Panthers first round pick in the 2004 draft scored two goals in Saturday's win over New Jersey and also had a two-goal game on Jan. 4 in Calgary. Olesz scored a point in four consecutive games from Dec. 14 - 21 and scored a goal in all three games during the Cats three-game win streak that week. When Olesz records a point, Florida is 11-1-3.

SPECIALTY TEAMS SUCCESS: The Panthers power play and penalty killing units rank among the top in the NHL. Florida's power play unit currently ranks 8th in the league while the penalty kill unit places 14th. The Cats C Jozef Stumpel is racking up the points on the power play this season. Stumpel now has 21 power play points (6-15-21). C Olli Jokinen has 17 power play points (7-10-17). Also, the Cats C Stephen Weiss has scored six PPG with seven PP assists this season. D Ruslan Salei leads all Cats defensemen with 18 PP points (1-17-18).

CAPTAIN LEADING THE WAY: Panthers captain C Olli Jokinen had a seven game point streak from Jan. 2 - Jan. 16 The Cats captain now has 22 goals on the season and leads the team with 53 points (22-31-53). The two-point performace against Carolina on Jan. 16 marked Jokinen's 16th multi-point game this season and seventh multi-point game in the Panthers last 16 games, a stretch in which Florida is 8-4-4. The Panthers leader scored his 150th career goal on Dec. 23 against Carolina and recorded his 300th point as a Panther on Jan. 7 in Vancouver.

Olli's Hat-trick: On Jan. 10 against Pittsburgh, Jokinen recorded his second hat trick of the season and third of his career.

League Leader: Jokinen's 53 points on the season is tied for the 23rd highest total in the NHL. The 247 shots Jokinen has put on goal this season are is the second highest total in the league. The Kuopio, Finland native has four GWG on the season which is among the NHL's best and his 22 goals rank him in the Top-20 in the NHL..

CLOSE GAMES: The Panthers have played 53 games this season, and 35 of them have been decided by 2 goals or less. Almost half of the Panthers first 51 games have been decided by one goal. In all 21 games have been decided by one goal with the Cats going 5-6-10 in those games.

SHUTOUT: With his next shutout, G Ed Belfour will tie Tony Esposito for eighth on the All-time shutout list with 76 career shutouts.

COMFORTABLE AT HOME: Cats C Olli Jokinen is ninth in the entire NHL in points scored at home. Jokinen has 35 points in 27 games played at the BankAtlantic Center this season (17-18-35).

HOME COOKIN': The Panthers are almost unbeatable at home over the past month. Since December 21, a span of nine home games, the Panthers are 7-2-2.

WELCOME TO THE NHL: Many players from the Rochester Americans (AHL) have made the trip from Rochester, NY to South Florida. In all, eight players from Rochester have been called up this season. C David Booth made his NHL debut Nov. 20 at Boston. He has played 11 games wiith the Cats, recording one goal and three assists. C Drew Larman has been called up three times, the most recent on Nov. 30. at Ottawa. Larman made his NHL debut Nov. 13 against Washington and scored his first career NHL goal on Nov. 24 against Ottawa. He added his second goal Dec. 12 at Anaheim. C Greg Jacina was called up during November and C Rob Globke was called up Nov. 28. C Janis Sprukts was the first Rochester call-up this season in October. He has been called up three times this season. RW Anthony Stewart became the sixth Amerks players to suit up from the Panthers this season when he was called up in December. He has been recalled twice. On Jan. 6, Florida called up C Kamil Kreps. He is the seventh Rochester player to wear a Panthers jersey this season and he becomes the fourth different prospect to make his NHL debut with Florida this season. On Saturday night, D Martin Lojek became the eighth different Rochester American to be called up to the Panthers.

STUMPEL'S STREAK - Cats C Jozef Stumpel recorded a five-game point streak from Dec. 10 - Dec. 19. Stumpel had 11 points (3-8-11) in those five games during his streak including back-to-back four point nights at Boston (2-2-4) on Dec. 16 and Toronto (0-4-4)Dec. 19.

Elite Company - Jozef Stumpel now joins Atlanta's Marian Hossa and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby as the only two other players this season who have recorded back-to-back four point games.

SETTING CAREER MARKS: Everytime Cats D Ruslan Salei records a point, he sets a new personal points record. He has tied or broken his career-high in three offensive categories. Salei has 23 assists on the season, 17 of which came on the power play. Both are career-best marks. His five goals also set a career-best along with his 28 points on the season which is tied for the team lead and 23rd best among defensemen in the NHL.
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