|@ Panthers (32-18-6)||0||0||0||0|
The first few minutes of play were not easy on Roberto Luongo or Carter Hutton. Carter Hutton did not crack under the pressure but unfortunately, Luongo did. Calle Jarnkrok left the Panthers wondering if this game would be just like the last. This reality seemed more and more likely after Miikka Salomaki made the game 2-0. About halfway through the period, the Panthers would get a chance to begin their comeback because the Predators had too many men on the ice. This would become a 5-on-3 after Paul Gaustad was called for tripping. Unsurprisingly, the Panthers passed the puck just a little too much and were unable to score on the power play. At the end of the period, the Panthers trailed 2-0 and also trailed in shots on goal 12-10. The Panthers had every opportunity to score this period and they simply did not. Their defense was not what it should have been and their offense wasn’t all that great either. The Panthers need to stop passing and start shooting in the second and third.
The Panthers were able to get decent opportunities early in the second but they could not convert on any of them. Quinton Howden got absolutely destroyed on an illegal hit but a slight tap on Calle Jarnkrok got Reilly Smith a high sticking penalty. Let’s just say there were no shortage of “ref you suck” chants occurring. This was with good reason too because James Neal was able to capitalize on the power play. Jagr had a good chance to put the Panthers on the board shortly after but Hutton had it. Garrett Wilson was held by Barret Jackman and did not like that very much, so he decided to obliterate him. They each got five for fighting but Jackman got the extra minor for holding. Do you think the Panthers were able to score after this altercation? Of course not. After an apparent fan injury, the period ended a few seconds early. The game remained 3-0 at the end of the period. The Predators also continued to lead in shots on goal 19-14. This was another below-average period for the Cats. Yes, the Panthers have been laughably unlucky tonight. However, it is their responsibility to overcome that.
Are the Panthers really this unlucky or is Carter Hutton just having an incredible night? In any event, a shutout looked imminent for the goalie tonight. A Valentines Day proposal nearly masked the fact that Brian Campbell was penalized for playing with a broken stick. It didn’t, though, because Shea Weber said so. The Panthers sans Willie Mitchell and Erik Gudbranson dealt with yet another botched penalty kill. With 7:53 left in the period, the Panthers got a power play because Barret Jackman was sent to the sin bin on a tripping call. The Panthers didn’t score on their power play but the Predators did (sigh). Calle Jarnkrok scored his second of the game. Even some Predators fans started to leave because although there were six minutes left, this game was over. The game couldn’t end though without Pirri getting injured and another “ref you suck” chant occurring. This game just needs to end, and it did, with a bench minor and game misconduct for coach Gerard Gallant. Well, that’s something you don’t see every day. At the end of the game, the Panthers were blown out 5-0.
Garrett Wilson proved himself to be a worthy full-time Panther with his fight against Barret Jackman tonight. This was a tough first NHL game to play but John McFarland was up to the task and even had a few decent chances. He couldn’t score, but neither could anyone else.
The Panthers will continue their home stand on Monday, February 15th at 7:30 pm ET against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.