Florida Panthers Pack Up Their Wild Win, Head to St. Louis
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When it comes to the Florida Panthers at this time of the year, they can not mull over losses too long — and they certainly cannot celebrate wins.
The Panthers seemed to enjoy themselves in the locker room following Monday night’s 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild and they probably had a few laughs on their flight to St. Louis.
Only today is a new day.
And a new challenge.
“That was one of the hardest games of the year,’’ Sasha Barkov told Bally Sports Florida reporter Katie Engleson postgame.
“We know the situation we are in. We had a good stretch, lost a game and wanted to get back to winning. Whatever it takes; 65 minutes, a shootout. We grinded, we battled as hard as we could and Bob was incredible and gave us a chance to win.”
Said Paul Maurice: “We go back-to-back but we get to feel good tonight. We’ll get a little more sleep tomorrow morning and everyone is excited about the game tomorrow night.”
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There is no rest for the weary, especially when you are chasing other playoff teams as the Panthers currently are.
The win definitely came at a good time for a Florida team which did not seem to sulk over Saturday’s 5-3 home loss to the Avalanche.
”We liked our first, which we did not against Colorado,” Maurice said. “There wasn’t a lot of flow in that game. The two teams were really good on the penalty kill, the two goalies were really good and that’s the important part. We were good again in the third, didn’t give up a shot in the first 10 minutes. We had chances, they had some chances. But that’s a good result to the start of a road trip.”
Florida came out strong against the Wild but simply could not get anything past Filip Gustavsson — especially when they had a man (or two) advantage.
The Panthers went 0-7 on the power play but kept the Wild scoreless on its five chances with both Gustavsson and Sergei Bobrovsky bringing their A-Games on Monday night.
But the final score, in this case, is all that matters.
Florida got two key points and pulled itself within two points of the Washington Captials and one of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the race for the final wild card spots.
Both teams have played fewer games than the Panthers — Pittsburgh four less — but Florida can only do what it can do right now.
“The only thing I can say is, those are big points for us,” Bobrovsky said after making 27 saves including three in overtime and two in the shootout. “This time of the year, it is already like a playoff game. Those are huge points.”
On Monday night, the Panthers took a 1-0 lead 2:06 into the second period when Eetu Luostarinen got his 12th of the season by nicking a soft Gus Forsling delivering and putting it past Gustavsson.
Minnesota super star Karill Kaprizov tied things just over three minutes later.
Florida briefly lost both Barkov and Brandon Montour during the early goings — and both would come up big upon their return.
Montour appeared to give Florida a 2-1 lead with a power play goal early in the third but it was waved off with the officials claiming Matthew Tkachuk interfered with the Minnesota goalie.
The game stayed tied the rest of the way with Minnesota dominating the overtime period as Bobrovsky played lights out and made a game-saving save on Jared Spurgeon with 12 seconds remaining.
“He was incredible the whole game but especially that one play in overtime,’’ Barkov said. “He saved us. He gave us a chance. And we got it. That’s a lot on him.”
In the shootout, Mats Zuccarello — who knocked Montour out late in the first — scored on the first shot but Anton Lundell answered.
Tied at 1, Barkov scored and Bobrovsky did the rest.
“The first four shooters who came out are worth coming to a hockey game to see,” Maurice said of Zuccarello, Kaprizov, Lundell and Barkov.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT ST. LOUIS BLUES
- When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
- Where: Enterprise Center, St. Louis
- Streaming ONLY: ESPN+/Hulu
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Season Series (Blues lead 1-0): St. Louis 5, Florida 4 (OT), Nov. 26
- Last season: Split 1-1
- All-time regular season series: St. Louis leads 25-12-1, 3 ties
- Up Next for the Florida Panthers: Thursday at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m.
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To me we are still a long shot for playoffs.I would feel better if we were not so predictable on PP.Who is responsible for the PP?.We still miss alot of scoring opportunities.Bobs has been our best player in the last 5 games.I will wait for surveyjay and his observations.
I here ya about the PP, teams have really zeroed in on that pass to the Bumper ( usually Tkachuk to Reinhart) but we have been top five in that regard since the turn of the calendar, of course last nights abysmal 0 for 7 didn’t help. I personally hate the fact we use two defenseman on the man advantage, we are the only team that does that. I would prefer to see Verhagee take Ekblads spot and run four forwards.