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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 3, Canadiens 2

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers
1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 0 1 2 0 3
CANADIENS 1 0 1 0 2
FLA - PPG - T. Fleischmann (14), S. Matthias (7), EN - T. Fleischmann (15)

MON - T. Moen (9), E. Cole (16)
SUNRISE, Fla (AP) - Tomas Fleischmann scored two goals, including an empty-netter with 40.2 seconds remaining that ended up being the game-winner in the Florida Panthers' 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Erik Cole scored with 30 seconds left to bring the Canadiens within 3-2.

"Any time that you're pulled from a game, you want to get right back at it, right back on the horse. It was unexpected circumstances tonight but it gave me that opportunity to get back in there which was something that was good for me. It was a tight game."

- Goaltender Scott Clemmensen entering the game after Jose Theodore went down with an injury and earning the win after stopping 17 shots.
1. Chippy Affair: Losing will make a team more desperate. When you have two teams that haven't done well (Florida is 1-3-1 in last five and Montreal 1-6 in last seven), you couldn't have a matchup any better squared on the desperation factor as both teams looked to close out the 2011 portion of the schedule on a high note. With that, the teams came out with attitudes and several altercations arose after hugh hits and crease crashes throughtout the night. On one instance, Erik Gudbranson and P.K. Subban went to the box for double minors at the end of the first period. A couple of minutes earlier, Matt Bradley was sent to the box for a hard hit on Alexei Emelin. The two teams combined for 66 hits in the game with each team collecting 33.

2. Theo Leaves Early: Getting the start against his former team, Jose Theodore looked to be on top of his game as he stopped nine of the ten shots he saw. The lone goal he gave up came as Travis Moen sniped one far side on the rush 5:37 into the game. Theodore had stopped Erik Cole with two minutes to play with a nice pad save on a wrap-around attempt and then denied Lars Eller on the breakaway with seconds left on the clock. Early in the second, injury struck as Mike Blunden and Dmitry Kulikov both went hard to the net Blunden clipped Theodore in the mask on a fly by and Kulikov ended up on top of the Panthers starting goaltender. Theodore was down for several seconds before being helped off the ice with an apparent leg injury. With six injured forwards, an injury to the Panthers starter will not help the cause. The Panthers found out that Theodore will be out with a lower body injury for at least a few games.

3. Offense In Third Sends Panthers Out Winners: Deadlocked at one heading into the final period, the two teams combined for three goals in the final stanza. It was Shawn Matthias scoring 3:08 in that gave the Panthers their first lead of the game as he scored on the rush. That should have stood as the game-winner as Tomas Fleischmann nteeted his second of the game, scoring into the empty net with 41 seconds to play but Erik Cole cut it to a one-goal game and made it interesting the final 30 seconds as he scored top shelf from in close. For Florida, it gives the club 20 wins in the 2011 portion of the season and sent the Canadien fans home looking to a new 2012 portion.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@CochinoChuy: Great win for the #FlaPanthers! Way to respond, guys! And @ShawnMatthias, what a freakin' game!

@johnny42: #FlaPanthers keep it interesting. Flash gets empty net goal then #Habs get one with 30 seconds left, but Cats hold the lead. Happy New Year!

@TheRatTrick: Excellent effort tonight. #FlaPanthers played with desperation tonight. Happy New Year.

@jpcck: Happy New Years to the #FlaPanthers Thanks for the win tonight! #weseered

@reneeb2010: The #FlaPanthers always know how to make my heart stop-for all the wrong reasons! Either way, lets go Cats!

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Amber Finkel: CLEMMENSEN!!! Great way to bring in the New Year!! I have a sore throat but it was well worth it!!! Go CATS Go!

Rebecca Mayer: AMAZING GAME!! You earned this one guys, way to bring in the new year!! 2012 Here we come, GO PANTHERS!!!!

Robby Chiste: Hard fought and well earned W for the Panthers...and a great confidence booster for Clem after last night, perfect time for our 4 day break!

Sebastian Lovas: Way to go boys! Nice to see Flash scoring again!

Marco Astro: What a happy new year... proud of the new panthers performance so far... this one is huge...

2. Scoring the Panthers first goal and their third, Tomas Fleischmann recorded just his second multi-goal game of the season. The other time came October 31 against Winnipeg. It was his seventh multi-point game of the season. It was also Flash's second game-winner on the season

5. Down a goal, Fleischmann got the Panthers on the board with a power play goal. It was his second game in two straight games and his fifth power play of the season. That tied him for second on the team with Kris Versteeg, trailing Jason Garrison's seven.

6. Giving the Panthers a 2-1 lead early in the third, Shawn Matthias registered his sixth point against the Canadiens in his career and he's done it in just seven games (4-2-6).

20. Recording the 3-2 victory, Florida picked up their 20th win of the season, moving to 20-12-7. It's the fourth time in franchise history that the club hit 20 wins before the start of the new year.

231. Registering the first assist on the Panthers first goal, Stephen Weiss recorded his 231st assist of his Panthers career. That total ties him atop the Panthers leaderboard with former captain Olli Jokinen.
Tomas Fleischmann
Scored the Panthers first goal and who would have thought that his empty net goal would turn out to be the game-winner.

2 Goals, 4 Shots, 21:51 TOI
Florida has a full four days off to rest up for their first game of the 2012 portion and it will be a familiar foe as the Panthers will face the New York Rangers for the fourth and final time of the season. The two teams will have met for the second time in less than a week and Florida will look to rebound from back-to-back games in which they were outscored by New York 10-2. In their last meeting on December 30th, New York scored three times in the opening period on their way to a 4-1 victory. Fireworks exploded in the dying seconds as the two teams came together after several cross checks and a punch. New York who plays on New Years day in the Winter Classic against Philadelphia, is led offensively by Marian Gaborik (33 points), Brad Richards (28 points) and Ryan Callahan (28 points). Stopping 27 shots against the Panthers in their last game, Henrik Lundqvist is one of the game's best, sporting a 1.91 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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