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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (SO)

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers
1 2 3 OT SO T
Panthers 1 0 1 0 1-3 3
Lightning 0 0 2 0 0-3 2
FLA - E. Jovanovski (1), Versteeg (1)

TBL - M. Bergeron (1, 2)
SUNRISE, FLA (AP) - Jose Theodore saw the puck at his feet and threw his arms in the air. It's way too early to declare the Florida Panthers a playoff contender, though moments like that from their new goalie are certainly signs of hope.

Marcel Goc scored the lone goal in a shootout, Theodore stopped all three shots he faced during the tiebreaker and the Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Saturday night - getting to four points after three games for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

Theodore made 28 saves in regulation and overtime.

"Your buildings and seats and those kinds of things, they're fabulous to play in such a spectacular building but really it's like a lot of things, it's about the people. I know I fed off of that enthusiastic crowd. They were into it for the whole night. There was a real buzz and I know our players really felt that energy too.'"

- Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen on the environment at the BankAtlantic Center.
1. Silencing His Critics: Jose Theodore has played exceptionally well the first three games of the season. After shutting out the Islanders with 28 saves, Theodore was tested against a very good Penguins team. He turned aside 25 shots in a 4-2 losing effort. Saturday night, he stopped 28 of 30 shots and then went three-for-three in the shootout. The only two goals were screened shots from the point with probably no chance of stopping them. Theodore has a 1.97 goals against average and a .930 save percentage on the young season.

2. Feeding Off The Crowd: In the post-game, the Panthers players as well as head coach Kevin Dineen said they drew a lot of their energy from the opening night crowd. It definitely looked the case as Florida outshot Tampa (38-30) and controlled play for what seemed like a lot of the time.

3. Rivalry Alive and Kicking....: The cross-state rivalry seemed to kick it up a notch or five and it started 5:32 into the game as Mattias Ritola went off for elbowing. On the way to the box, he met the stare and some words of alternate captain Stephen Weiss. In the second period, Steve Downie and rookie Erik Gudbranson squared off in a fight that resulted in 38 penalty minutes (including several misconducts. The Panthers and Lightning combined for 69 hits in the game.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@BlueLiner55: GREAT NIGHT for the #FlaPanthers! My fav Jovo gets the 1st goal, Gudbranson puts fear in Downie, (still laughing), and of course, THE WIN!

@MsOmegaSam: I guess Jose Theodore is the new King #rulingthenet #weseered #flapanthers #nomorekittenbuisness

@Ahh_Damn: Rats are thrown on the ice and #Flapanthers win in a shootout!

@tonyfigcis: Great game@flapanthers tonight @#bac. My girls had agreat time@1st game.Great atmosphere!Can't wait 4 the next one. #flapanthers #weseered
Memorable fan posts from the game.

Brandan Gabriele: I've been going to Panther games since 2001, and this home opener was definitely my favorite out of all the ones I went to for ten years. I was in the front row seats!

Will Runnels: Great game! Packed crowd! New era of panthers hockey??

Philip DiPatrizio: The player salute at center ice after the game was amazing. Really shows that the players care what we think about them. Get to the games and support the Cats!!!

Gianfranco Abreu: Theodore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I knew Goc was gonna score for some reason. I had called it... GG!!!

33. The Panthers bounced back nicely on the man advantage as they got both their goals on the power play. Florida went two-for-six with Tampa having a man in the box.

38. At 12:16 of the second period, Tampa Bay and Florida combined for 38 penalty minutes with each team picking up 19 minutes each. The majority went to Bolts forward Steve Downie (17) and Cats defenseman Erik Gudbranson (19) as the two were issued fighting and misconducts along with a minor (Downie - unsportsmanlike) or two (Gudbranson - unsportsmanlike, instigator). Tampa's Brett Clark picked up a tripping penalty as well.

39. Deadlocked at one late in the third, Kris Versteeg scored to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead off a rebound with 2:55 to play. The lead was short lived as Marc-Andre Bergeron netted his second of the game just 39 seconds later with 2:16 to play.

150. With his goal Saturday night, forward Kris Versteeg recorded the 150th point of his NHL career. Versteeg (66-85-150) played in his 253rd game against Tampa.

4,670. Boy did it feel like a long time. Maybe because it was.  Ed Jovanovski got the Panthers on the board in the first period with a power play bomb that deflected in off of Tom Pyatt's skate. It was Jovanovski's first goal as a Panther since January 1, 1999, a span of 4,670 days or 12 years, 9 months and 14 days after his goal against Carolina.
Jose Theodore
While he didn't receive recognition as one of the game's three stars and we could have went with either goalie (Mathieu Garon with 36 saves on 38 shots), we went with the Panthers starting netminder Jose Theodore as he stopped 28 shots in regulation and overtime and then turned aside all three shots in the shootout.

30 Shots, 28 Saves, .933 SV%
The Panthers will return the favor to the Lightning on Monday as they will be Tampa Bay's home opener. Tampa Bay made a lot of upgrades to the St. Pete Times Forum and the $40 million will be on full display come October 17th.

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