Today’s Throwback Thursday brings us back to the incredibly exciting 2011-12 season during which the Panthers made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Read on, and come along with us as we go back in time to the Panthers tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes nearly four years ago.
It’s December 18th, 2011. The Panthers are at the friendly confines of the Bank Atlantic Center, and they’re taking on the Carolina Hurricanes while wearing their navy blue/baby blue alternate jerseys. Entering the game, the Panthers were on a 7-game home point streak which was their longest since the 2005-2006 season, and they were sitting atop the Southeast Division with a record of 17-9-6, which was good for 40 points. Greg Rallo made his NHL debut at the age of 30. The Panthers were led by Kris Versteeg, who had 33 points in 31 games, Stephen Weiss, who had 31 points in 32 games, and Jose Theodore, who won 4 of his previous 5 starts.
The first goal of the game was scored by Sean Bergenheim, who shot the puck off the end boards from the right wing and scored off his own rebound, giving him three goals in two games. Both Cam Ward and Jose Theodore made big saves near the end of the 1st period, but the Canes eventually countered on a Tim Gleason wrist shot which was tipped into the net by a Panther player. In the 2nd period, Chad Larose stole the puck from Versteeg who failed on a clearing attempt at the halfboards and shot it past Theodore to give the Canes the lead. Jason Garrison tied it up for the Panthers early in the 3rd on the powerplay thanks to a slapshot that found its way through Ward’s pads. In overtime, Shawn Matthias had a breakaway opportunity, but Ward was able to keep the 5-hole closed.
Two minutes later, a broken play led to the puck finding the stick of Kris Versteeg who would score on a wide open net, and it would turn out to be one of the more memorable goals of the Panthers’ 2011-12 season. The Panthers improved to 6-1-5 in their past 12 one-goal games at home that year, and took an 8-point lead in the Southeast Division.