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Panthers Wrap-Up: Coyotes 2, Panthers 1

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers
1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 0 1 0 0 1
COYOTES 1 1 0 0 2
FLA - B. Campbell (3)

PHX - PPG - R. Whitney (11), PPG - R. Vrbata (16)
SUNRISE, Fla (AP) - Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney scored goals to lift the Phoenix Coyotes to a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

The Coyotes won for just the second time in six games.

"I think when I’m screaming like a fool on the bench, what you do is set a precedent with the referees. So I’ll hang myself on that one because what we’re trying to do is get a lot of hits to the head out of the game and there were so many plays I felt were dangerous plays...The game obviously became lopsided."

- Head coach Kevin Dineen
1. Penalties The Name Of The Game: For the majority of the game, it seemed like there was little flow as whistles were the norm. The Panthers and Coyotes had a penalty filled opening 20 minutes combining for six minors. Florida was guilty on four of those occasions and that resulted in the game's first goal. Shawn Matthias went off for interference with 1:51 left in the period. Then Kris Versteeg almost stole the puck in the offensive zone on the kill but instead went off for slashing. Florida almost got to the end of the period unscathed but Ray Whitney one-timed a slap pass from Oliver Ekman-Larsson with 6.8 seconds left on the clock. In the second period, it was more of the same as the Panthers took two more penalties. Erik Gudbranson's delay of game 7:27 into the period cost the Cats dearly as Radim Vrbata made it a 2-0 lead on the ensuing power play. All in all, there were 11 minors called in the game, seven on the Panthers.

2. Wide Shot Here, High Shot There: Florida posted quite a few shots when they got into the zone but it just seemed like the rifles were just a little off. The Panthers were credited with a total of 14 missed shots. Five of those belonged to winger Tomas Fleischmann. As a collective group it was a tough night as shots just seemed to go just a little bit wide or just over the Coyotes goaltenders gloves or heads. In all, the Panthers had 52 shots (shots, missed shots and blocked shots combined).

3. A Matter Of Inches: With time slowly creeping toward a finish, the Panthers pulled their netminder for the extra attacker. They swarmed the net and a shot got to the goal line and just crossed it. Coming back on the play, two Coyotes players knocked the puck off the moorings. The referees called for a penalty shot with 25 seconds left on the clock. With the chance to tie it up, head coach Kevin Dineen chose assistant captain Stephen Weiss to take the shot. The center raced down on Jason LaBarbera, who had taken over for Mike Smith earlier in the period after the starting netminder got hurt on a shot. LaBarbera got just enough of it and the puck came oh-so-close to crossing the goal line but instead sat right on the goal line. No goal and the Panthers could not get the tying score to send it to overtime thus ending an eight game point streak (6-0-2) at the BankAtlantic Center.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@TopRumun: Just saw the Weiss PS at the end of the #FlaPanthers game. Holy crap...

@BellaBraves24: Oh well Cats will win nxt time! #FlaPanthers

@puckmaster35: Crap!!! Our 8 game home point streak just ended!!! #1stPlaceProblems #FlaPanthers

@xo_lalalaura: Upset the #FlaPanthers didn't win :( It's ok, it was a good game! We'll win next game!

@mlaksola: This #FlaPanthers loss just ripped my heart out. No luck, no help from the refs. Great battle right til the end, but hockey gods disagreed.

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Gregory Cordero: What a bummer... nothing went the Panthers way tonight.

John Friel: Unbelievable. Of course, it would land that close. What a tease.

Ryan Maloy: about 7 to many penalties tonight.

Mark Zola: Wow...what a crazy game...can't be too mad about that loss...the penalty shot made the game..if it would've went in this would have easily been the best game of the season so far lol..let's get ready for the road cats!

Jesse Langevin: I couldn't help but think of gordon bombay on that penalty shot. . . so close!


3. Allowing power play goals to Ray Whitney in the first and Radim Vrbata in the second, the Panthers allowed a rare feat this season as it was just the third time they allowed multiple power play goals by the opponent (Oct. 22 vs NYI and Dec. 11 at NYR).

6.8. The Panthers almost made it to the end of the first in killing off a 5-on-3 power play. It didn't quite happen however as Ray Whitney one-timed the slap pass from Oliver Ekman-Larsson to put the Coyotes on the board with 6.8 seconds remaining on the clock.

7. The Panthers finished with seven minors on the night, three more than the Coyotes. It was a team effort in the penalty category as no one Panther had more than a single minor.

Both teams finished were pretty even in every category, including having the same number of blocked shots (10). Brian Campbell had four of the Panthers blocked shots while Mike Weaver finished with three.

Florida was extremely successful in the face-off circles, combining as a team to win 59% (32 of 54). Stephen Weiss had an identical win percentage of 59% (13 of 22).
Ray Whitney
Was Phoenix' best forward out there getting involved in both Coyotes goals.

1 Goal, 1 Assist, 3 Shots
The Panthers hit the road for two games in two nights before the Christmas break as they are in Ottawa on Thursday and Boston on Friday. In Thursday night's match-up, Florida will look to revenge an earlier loss to the Senators at Scotiabank Place where they lost out on at least one point as Nick Foligno scored with four seconds on the clock to give the home team a 4-3 victory. Kris Versteeg had tied the game just 44 seconds earlier to give them hope. Ottawa enters the game at 16-14-4 after beating Buffalo by a score of 4-1 on Tuesday night. Ottawa is led by Jason Spezza (12-25-37) and blueliner  Erik Karlsson (3-28-31). Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen in assists.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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