"It was collectively a great team effort, one of the better ones of our seasons. That's how we're effective..That's how this team is made up. Everyone has to tug the same way. If not, it doesn't work."
- Panthers captain Ed Jovanovski.
1. Controlled Play: After coming off the road trip the way they did, captain Ed Jovanovski said pre-game that the team had to play on edge and aggressive and the Panthers certainly did that from the opening face-off at the BB&T Center. Florida recorded the first nine shots of the game on their way to outshooting Toronto 19-4 in the opening period and it didn't stop from there as they peppered Jonathan Bernier with shots throughout. In fact, Florida could have been up 3-0, 4-0 but Bernier foiled the Cats on several great chances, including second period breakaways by Jonathan Huberdeau and Scottie Upshall.
2. Power Play Strike: It took less than a minute on their first power play opportunity of the night as the Cats struck early in the second for a well deserved 1-0 lead. After David Clarkson was sent to the box for slashing 30 seconds in, Tom Gilbert scored on a slapshot from downtown. The Panthers power play was impressive on each of their opportunities, moving the puck around and getting that goal from Gilbert off the feed from Brian Campbell and Jonathan Huberdeau.
3. Complete Win: Dominating from start to finish, the Cats added a secondary marker off a goal from Brian Campbell 5:21 into the second and Tim Thomas and the defense did the rest. While no where as tested as Bernier was, Thomas came up with the big stops when he was called upon. His biggest save might have come about three minutes following Gilbert's when he stoned James Van Riemsdyk who found himself all alone after Tyler Bozak found him in front of the net. And even when David Clarkson scored to make it a 2-1 game, the Cats came right back as Shawn Matthias gave them back their two-goal cushion on a rush up the left side of the ice. Marcel Goc finished with an empty netter as the Panthers outshot the Maple Leafs 48-21. It was a well executed 60 minutes for the Panthers.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.
@ssaammm_: I love the @FlaPanthers more than anything
@wilcoxeducation: @FOXPanthers @FlaPanthers Mic up the coach every night! Wow!!
@AdamReid_: Wow, thats a great stat. Every Panther had a shot on net tonight. Talk about team effort. @gptrap26@FlaPanthers
Memorable fan posts from the game.
Jeff Carter: best effort I have seen all year. a complete win against a very good team.
Deborah Oberlies: Loved the empty net goal!
Rosa Ruiz: This game was fun. Congrats the Cats. Let's go Panthers.
1. Florida and Toronto dropped the gloves in the second period and it was an unlikely participant for the Cats as reigning Calder trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau was the Panthers choice as the sophomore dropped the gloves with Jake Gardiner for the first fight of his NHL career.
2. Defenseman Tom Gilbert got the Panthers on the board early in the second with his third of the season. Two of those goals have come on the power play.
6. The Cats got third period goals from Jesse Winchester, Matthias and Marcel Goc to pull away with the 4-1 victory. It was the sixth time this season the Panthers have scored three goals in a single period.
18. Number 18 in the Panthers play books, it took a while for Shawn Matthias to get on the shot sheet, becoming the Panthers 18th and final skater to record a shot but he made it count with his sixth of the season.
19. Florida heavily owned the shot advantage spending loads of time in the offensive zone in the first 20 minutes, outshooting Toronto 19-4.
Picked up the primary assist on the Panthers first two goals of the night with the second setting up the game-winner.
It's only the beginning of February but Thursday's game at the BB&T Center marks the fifth and final time that the Panthers and Atlantic Division rival Detroit Red Wings this season. Florida has owned the season series, taking three of the first four games of the series. Detroit last played on Monday night as they shut out the Canucks 2-0. The Wings who currently sit in eighth in the East with 62 points (25-19-12) are led by winger Henrik Zetterberg. The big forward has 16 goals and 48 points in 43 games for the boys from the Motor City. It's been split duty between the pipes meanwhile as both Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson have seen their time. The USA Olympian Howard has an 11-12-9 record with a 2.69 GAA and .913 SV% while the Swedish Olympian Gustavsson has been phenomenal with a 13-4-3 record and 2.55 GAA and .911 SV%.