|@ Panthers (8-7-3)||0||0||1||1|
- It didn’t take long for the Panthers’ top line of Huberdeau, Barkov, and Jagr to get reacquainted with one another as they spent nearly two minutes in the offensive zone and controlled the puck possession game on just their first shift.
- Reilly Smith broke free for a breakaway although his shot was sent high and wide of Andrej Vasilevskiy.
- The Panthers were forced to go on the penalty kill after Erik Gudbranson was wrongly called for holding as he pushed Nikita Kucherov away from the front of the net to deny him a scoring chance. On the penalty kill, the Panthers looked good and mostly kept the Lightning to the perimeter and away from the heart of the offensive zone.
- The Panthers weren’t able to get much offensive going in the 1st period. They had their 3rd shot with two minutes into the period but didn’t get another until a Jaromir Jagr opportunity with 3 minutes left. Meanwhile, the Lightning top line of Namestnikov, Stamkos, and Kucherov hemmed the Panthers in their zone several times, especially late in the period, and got a couple decent chances, one of which Roberto Luongo came out and fought off with his left arm.
- It seemed like the Panthers were passing too much and weren’t doing much off the rush. They were down 13-4 in shots at the end of the period and had just 13 shot attempts to the Lightning’s 23. The forecheck was almost non existent in the period for the Panthers aside from the top line, and the other 3 lines looked somewhat out of sync.
- The Panthers got a power play with under 25 seconds left in the period so there wasn’t much time for them to set up considering they lost the face-off to start with the man advantage.
- The Panthers started the period on the power play which carried over from the 1st period. They couldn’t get anything going again, but after it ended, Barkov received a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau and was able to get a between-the-legs shot off in tight on Vasilevskiy, but it was stopped. Just goes to show the young forward’s confidence even in his first game back from injury.
- About a minute later, Barkov made a great back-check deep in the offensive zone as the Lightning were trying to exit and it turned into a scoring opportunity as he found Jonathan Huberdeau with a cross ice pass. There was a similar play shortly after when the Lightning fumbled the puck inside their own blue line and it let Jussi Jokinen in on a mini breakaway, but hit shot was stopped by Vasilevskiy.
- The Panthers were really good on the penalty kill in the first period and that effort carried over the 2nd period. Jussi Jokinen was called for hooking early in the frame as he prevented a shorthanded breakaway by Valtteri Filppula. When the penalty ended, the Lightning had an abbreviated power play which the Panthers shut them down on. Later in the period, the Panthers were aggressive on the kill again, and Jonathan Huberdeau even spent some offensive zone time with Barkov at the tail end of the Lightning man-advantage.
- The pace and play opened up after the halfway point of the period. The Panthers and Lightning began to go back and forth and after their penalty kill, Florida began getting several good chances in the offensive zone, especially the top line. The best chance came when Huberdeau made a slick behind-the-back pass to Barkov at the right face off circle who got a shot off on Vasilevskiy.
- Overall, the Panthers didn’t have the best period, but they looked energized after killing off the Howden penalty in the 2nd half. They got more shots on net than they did in the 1st period, but it still is not enough. The top line was still the only one generating much of anything offensively.
- The 3rd period consisted of some very gritty plays by both the Panthers and the Lightning. There were lots of board battles and lots of physical plays by both teams.
- The Panthers continued to pass the puck instead of shoot when they got in close to the net. Quinton Howden was on a mini 2-on-1 with Derek MacKenzie and he elected to pass which killed the opportunity. Later on, Nick Bjugstad had a clear shot at the net and decided to pass to Jussi Jokinen in the slot which killed the play again. Bjugstad went in on a 2-on-1 with Reilly Smith and Bjugstad’s cross-ice pass was behind the stick of Smith which ended the play. When they did shoot the puck, even early on in the game, everything was right at the goalie and they didn’t really challenge Vasilevskiy.
- The Lightning kept the Panthers in their own zone for much of the period, and the Stamkos line was really effective at cycling the puck and setting up one another for scoring chances. At one point, Dave Bolland made a superb play to intercept a cross-ice pass in the slot on an odd-man rush by the Lightning.
- The final 5 minutes of their period, following an unsuccessful power play, were dominated by the Panthers. It all paid off when an Aaron Ekblad point shot deflected off Victor Hedman’s leg in front of the net and flipped over the shoulder of Andrej Vasilevsky to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead with 20 seconds left in the game.
- Roberto Luongo earned a shutout for the first time this season and for the 69th time in his career after stopping all 39 shots by the Lightning.
The Panthers scored the game-winning goal in the final minute of regulation and it took the other 59 minutes of hard work to get there. They really turned it on in the 2nd period and they were able to shut down the likes of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Vladislav Namestnikov. It was a tight checking affair between the two teams tonight and the Panthers were able to hold their composure despite being some close calls in the defensive zone and being outshot for the entire game. This was a huge divisional win for the Panthers just like it was the other night in Tampa, and these past two games where they found a way to win could be what they need to go on a roll after some tough losses over the past few weeks.
Your Florida Panthers will be taking on the Anaheim Ducks at home on Thursday, November 19th, at 7:30 PM ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.