"The guys didn't quit. They kept pushing back and had quite a few scoring chances in the third. We had good opportunities and Smith played well and kept them out of (a tied game)."
- Panthers intirim head coach Peter Horachek.
1. Lu vs Mr. Smith: It was a couple of Olympic gold medal winning goalies battling it out in the Arizona desert Thursday night as both Roberto Luongo and Mike Smith earned gold in Sochi with Canada back in February. In Glendale, the goalies played up to that gold medal winning standard, with each making some huge stops. Coming off a 52-save virtuoso performance in San Jose on Tuesday, Luongo's best save on Thursday night came with the Cats trailing 2-0 late in the second when he reach back to deny Mike Ribeiro. As for Smith, he kept the Panthers at bay when they got their chances, two of the best coming from Vincent Trocheck and Garrett Wilson. Smith’s biggest save came in the third when he flashed the glove to rob Colby Robak.
2. All Over The Ice: Blueliner Dmitry Kulikov had another strong game in all three zones for the Cats. He helped get the Cats on the board in the third period, setting up Scott Gomez to pull the Panthers within one. Number 7 in red finished with one assist, two shots, two hits, two blocked shots and a team-leading 26:31 TOI. Kulikov played almost half of the third period alone.
3. Until The End: Phoenix scored less than three minutes into the game on a power play goal from Radim Vrbata, and then extended the lead with 1:22 remaining in the frame off of Antoine Vermette’s 23rd of the year. The Panthers ramped up the offensive pressure in an effort to bust through Phoenix’s stifling 1-4 “trap” in the third period, and pulled within one as Gomez scored with 4:06 remaining. The Coyotes would ultimately weather the storm and hold on for the victory.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.
@Red_Tractors: Tough loss for the boys but great game @FlaPanthers #PantherNation #greatgame #2-1
@dsilv_tsd: Gomez with the beautiful snipe. @FlaPanthers #FlaPanthers #sniped
The Cats will be going back to California for back-to-back games against Los Angeles and Anaheim over the weekend before heading back home for a three-game homestand against Ottawa (3/25), Carolina (3/27) and Montreal (3/29). The Kings are currently in sixth place in the Western Conference with 84 points (39-25-6). Anze Kopitar leads the way offensively with 58 points (22-36-58) in 70 games while Jonathan Quick owns a 22-15-2 record with 2.10 GAA and .914 save percentage.