Panthers must help the Lightning extend their winless road record to 7. In doing so, we will be one game closer to .500...so two points will be huge tonight. The Panthers need to repeat, up to a point, what they did when they last played the Lightning here at the BankAtlantic Center...that is...get off to a great start. This time, however, we can not allow the Lightning to come storming back in the third period. A four goal lead was erased in short time and I recall going near-crazy until Jokinen scored a huge insurance goal. Let's get the lead and keep it. We'll see...puck drops in a few minutes.
14:00 remaining...1st period
Prospal knocks Allen into the boards in neutral zone...gets a desrved five minute major...Allen took exception. What was Tanarsky doing joining in?...Allen laid a nice check on him two minutes earlier. Four on four action going good. Jokinen's line looking sharp in early going.
13:21 remaining... 1st period
From a power play to a penalty kill....why would Weiss get a two minute penalty when the Panthers are looking at a man advantge. Instead St. Louis knocks in easy rebound for a 1-0 Lightning lead. It's 4 on 4 and we look like we are killing a penalty.
10:31 remaining... 1st period
Panther goal !!! Peltonen knocks in rebound from Jokinen's shot. Ville did a good job staying in front of the net. Tie game...1-1.
8:08 - 4:34 remaining... 1st period
Peltonen again in front of the net and deflects in Murphy's shot from point for another power play goal. Jokinen gets his 2nd assist. 2-1 Panthers.
8:25 p.m. - End of first period...
Panthers up 2-1. I made a press box blunder as Peltonen scored his first goal...I let out a huge yell, and quickly realized everyone else was silent around me. I broke etiquette but learned from my mistake...was quiet after the 2nd goal and will work hard to supress being a fan while I'm up here. Panthers outshot and mostly outplayed the Lightning in the first period...power plays help. Panthers rank 6th in the league with a power play % of 22.7. Lightning right behind at 22.2%. Guess what...three goals on the PP in the first.
8:35 p.m. - Start of the 2nd period...
Just announced change in Panthers first goal...it was Jokinen, so Ville did not get his stick on it. Panthers just killed off Lightning PP, and now with 17:21 remaining, we go on the man advantage. 8:51 p.m.
Midway through the second...Lightning now controlling this game. Keeping the puck in panthers zone and creating opportunities...and guess what...they just scored while I was writing this. Panthers allowing Lightning to skate out with the puck. Then...just as I was about to press the send button, Montador scores as he goes top shelf to make it a 3-2 Panther lead. Lets see if the Panthers can grab some momentum.
9:19 p.m. - End of the second...
A shot a minute. That was what the Panthers produced on their five minute man advantage which ate up the remaining time of the period. The Lightning penalty killers play aggressive, going after the puck carrier and not allowing the Panthers to set anything up. That strategy works well as the Panthers seem too jumpy and unorganized. That power play was set up by Tanarski's hit on Van Ryn which then had Bryan Allen taking exception. Allen and Tanarski have been going at it since their first shifts of the night. Prior to the penalty call, Vokuon made a great save on Lecavalier as he skated in alone. That preserved the 3-2 lead, which is where we are now. Still, the Panthers lost a golden opportunity to extend the lead, and I'm hoping that will not come back to haunt them. I'm hearing up here that Van Ryn and Allen will be back, although they looked rough going off the ice after their Tanarsky experience. Third period is shaping up to be a pressure cooker...this is a game the Panthers must win. We are less that 48 hours from palying the Lightning again in Tampa...and they are strong at home.
16:20 reamin in the game...
I was just thinking...way too quiet, and certainly the Panthers weren't generating anything. So with 16:20 remaining, Mezei ansd Salei allow Lecavalier to skate around...shot towards net and a goal. Tied 3-3.
9:25 remianing in game...
:49 remain in critical penalty kill. Penalty was a weak slashing call on Booth...wasn't that Gratton slashing right back???? Need this kill.
1:19 remaining in game...
Panthers score....Jokinen's work behind the net makes it happen. In the final minute...it's tense. Gotta go...will get back after game.
End of the game.
PANTHERS WIN !!! 4-3. Booth's deflection off Salei's shot sealed it...still the work behind the net by Jokinen was key. The last period I kept thinking that the Panthers lost their great opportunity to put this game out of reach when they failed during the five minute power play in the 2nd...and it would haunt them. But...they pulled it out and scoring that late in the game has got to be a back-breaker for the Lightning, who now are winless in 7 road games. These two points feels great...and now we go to Tampa with a lot more confidence. I will have to go to that game.