Recap: Panthers @ Avalanche, 3/3/16

Final 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Panthers (36-20-8) 1 1 0 2
@ Avalanche (33-19-4)  2  1 0 3

First Period

  • The period started off fairly even for the first few shifts, although the Panthers got the better of the chances. Vincent Trocheck fed Reilly Smith off the rush and he snuck through the Colorado Avalanche before getting a good shot on net. Smith nearly scored again a little while later after hit shot off the face-off deflected off the top of the net.
  • The Avalanche got the games first goal after Alex Petrovic took a defensive zone hooking penalty. Gabriel Landeskog caught Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson with bad gaps and split them before putting a shot short-side on Roberto Luongo.
  • The Panthers got the goal back just as a power play opportunity of their own ended several minutes later. Jaromir Jagr sent the puck to Aleksander Barkov in the right corner who then made a slick backdoor cross-ice pass to Erik Gudbranson who one-timed it past Calvin Pickard. Jagr got a secondary assist on the goal tying him for 3rd on the all-time points list (1850) with Gordie Howe. With the primary assist on the goal, Barkov set a new career-high in assists (21) and recorded his 100th career NHL point.

  • Colorado turned it around quickly though. Some miscommunication in the defensive zone by the Panthers and weak board play by Jussi Jokinen at the half wall on the left wing led to the puck making it’s way to front of the net for Mikkel Boedker who roofed it over a sprawled-out Luongo.

Once again, it wasn’t the best opening period for the Panthers as their defensive awareness was a bit off. Jakub Kindl didn’t see too much ice time in the period but made a couple solid defensive plays in his own zone. Aside from the Avalanche power play goal off the rush, the Panthers’ penalty kill was solid and the coverage on it was good. The Avalanche, however, did control the play and didn’t allow the Panthers much speed through the neutral zone or sustained offensive zone pressure.

Second Period

  • The Panthers started out the middle frame fairly well and with some jump. Nick Bjugstad the puck from behind the net to the top of the crease for Logan Shaw, but goaltender Calvin Pickard poke-checked the puck away before Shaw could get it to his backhand. The Rau-Barkov-Jagr line also had a really nice passing sequence to enter the offensive zone which lead to two shifts worth of time spent there.
  • The ice started to tilt once again though as the Avalanche regained the momentum. After some time spent in the defensive zone for the Panthers, Matt Duchene lost Brian Campbell as he walked out of the corner, went into the slot, and shot the puck past Luongo for a 3-1 lead.

  • Colorado controlled the play for pretty much the next 8 minutes until Jussi Jokinen entered the offensive zone on the left wing, stopped at the half wall, and found Brian Campbell wide open at the left point. He placed a wrist shot perfectly past Pickard to bring the Panthers within 1 of tying the game. Before that, the Panthers had a power play during which they controlled the zone for almost the entire man-advantage.
  • Kyle Rau hasn’t been able to catch a break it seems. Over the past few games, including tonight, Rau has had several grade-A scoring chances but the puck just hasn’t been finding the back of the net.

Third Period

  • The Panthers came out of the locker room on a mission. They began the period on the power play and got several great scoring chances. Barkov had a shot in the slot that was deflected inches wide of the right post while Trocheck and Ekblad each had point-blank shots from the slot area as well.
  • Quinton Howden had a mini breakaway early in the period, but his wrist shot hit the post, and Ekblad hit the post on a point shot that nearly went into the top left corner of the net.
  • For the rest of the 3rd, the Panthers utterly dominated the Avalanche. If we tried to point out every chance they had, we’d be here for days as they outshot them 24-6 which ties a season high for the most shots in a period by the Panthers. They came very close to tying the game on a big net-front scrum, but the puck seemingly disappeared into the pads and equipment of the players in the crease, so it was ruled ‘no goal.’
  • Roberto Luongo didn’t face much in the period, but he made a couple incredible saves, including one on a penalty shot by Nathan MacKinnon.

Wrap Up

The Panthers had an incredible effort in the 3rd period, there’s no denying that. However, it pains me to think of how different this game could’ve been if the Panthers brought the same effort to start the game, and that’s just how it’s been the past couple of games.  They’ve won just 7 games when they haven’t scored first while they’ve won 29 of the games in which they have scored first, so when they allow themselves to crawl out of the gate, they’re doing themselves a disservice. They were also without newcomers Teddy Purcell, who looked impressive against Winnipeg, and Jiri Hudler who is a good offensive player, but there’s no excuse for the start they had to the game.

The Panthers will face the Coyotes on Saturday at 9 PM Eastern in Arizona, so stay tuned for our preview and recap of that game.

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