Opening night in Sunrise. A sellout crowd was on hand to catch a glimpse of these new look Florida Panthers. They would not leave disappointed.
Even though the Cats dominated through the first two periods, the score was only 1-0 Panthers when the teams took the ice in the third.
The final period got a little out of hand, and regulation ended with the score knotted at two. After a scoreless overtime, the shootout was afoot.
Theodore stopped all three shots and Marcel Goc netted the game winner. Breaking down each Panther's performance, we see a lot of contributions across the board.
First Line: Left Wing
21 minutes on ice, 5 shots taken.
Fleischmann had his consecutive points scored streak broken, but looked passable on the ice.
First Line: Center
22 minutes on ice. Three shots on goal, one blocked shot, one hit, nine for 19 on faceoffs.
Weiss also drew an elbowing penalty against the Lightning's Mattias Ritola, resulting in the Cat's first power play. One of his shots just barely missed the right side of the net.
First Line: Right Wing
22 minutes on ice, one goal on six shots, one hit, zero for one on faceoffs.
Versteeg can also take credit for blowing the crowd up with his goal with under three minutes left in the third. The marker put the Cats up 2-1 on a perfect one timer from the left side of the net on a great cross ice pass from Kulikov. He was active all night, and generated a ton of chances.
Second Line: Left Wing
17 minutes on ice, one assist, minus-1 rating, two shots, four hits.
Booth was again very active against the Bolts. He played a very physical game and as always looked really quick on his feet.
Second Line: Center
18 minutes on ice, one assist, minus-1 rating, one shot on goal, one hit, 5 of 9 on faceoffs.
Kopecky was a nuisance to the Lightning all night. He looked tenacious and competent in the offensive zone.
Second Line: Right Wing
15 minutes ice time, minus-1, three shots on goal, four hits.
Upshall played a brutal physical game against the Bolts. He was hitting very hard, and on more than one occasion, proved more than adept at keeping the puck in the offensive zone.
Third Line: Left Wing
17 minutes on ice, minus-one rating, three shots on goal, three hits, one blocked shot.
Bergenheim was full of the Cats' prevalent "Never Say Die" attitude. He refused to give the puck up behind the Lightning net on one occasion in the third, continuing to control it after going to his knees against two of the Bolts defenders.
The game winner!
Third Line: Center
19 minutes ice time, minus-2 rating, two shots on goal, two hits, 12 of 21 on faceoffs, game winning goal in shootout. He also drew an interference call against Vincent LeCavalier.
Goc won a majority of his faceoffs and netted the game winner in the second round of the shootout, however was at times out of position, resulting in a less than desirable minus-2 rating on the night.
Third Line: Right Wing
15 minutes on ice, five shots on goal, three hits, one blocked shot. He also drew a tripping penalty half way through the second period on Brett Clark.
In each of the Panther's first three games, Skille has been a world beater. Even though he has only scored one point (an assist), he has skated fast, hit hard, and scared everyone on the other team with his aggressive stick handling.
He looks poised to have a breakout season for the Cats.
Fourth Line: Left Wing
Seven minutes on ice, three hits.
Even though Bradley's time on ice has been limited, he leads the team in aggression per minute this year, collecting nine hits in only 24 minutes of ice time.
Fourth Line: Center
Eight minutes on ice, one shot on goal, one hit, one blocked shot, one of three faceoffs won.
Matthias has yet to appear on the score sheet this season, but he is always charging around the offensive zone. He really embodies the Panther's team spirit this year in that the whole team is aggressive in the offensive zone.
It's been a while since we have seen this team crash the net with so many quality chances.
Fourth Line: Right Wing
Seven minutes on ice, won both of his faceoffs, two hits and two minutes for roughing.
Carter did well in limited minutes of ice time, although a questionable roughing call on Matt Gilroy put the Panthers at a man disadvantage. The Panthers apprised themselves nicely, and still are perfect on the penalty kill this season.
First Line: Defenseman
Thirty minutes ice time, one assist, two shots on goal, two blocked shots.
Campbell may be the most skilled defenseman ever to lace up for the Panthers.
This was illustrated in the first period when he deked two forwards in the Florida zone almost out of their skates. He notched his third assist of the season in the first, and is tied with Kris Versteeg for the Panthers lead with three points.
His thirty minutes on ice again led the Cats.
First Line: Defenseman
27 minutes on ice, one shot, minus-2 rating.
Garrison had a tough night, and was several times in the third out-hustled by his Bolts counterparts. This is evidenced by his substandard rating on the game.
Second Line: Defenseman
19 minutes on ice, one goal on two shots, two hits, one blocked shot and one interference penalty.
Jovanovski had a pretty good game next to the youngster Gudbranson, scoring the Panthers first goal on the power play in the first period, assisted by Kopecky and Booth.
Second Line: Defenseman
Seven minutes on ice, one blocked shot, two upper cuts, 19 minutes in related penalties, one very charged Florida crowd.
Gudbranson made what may have been the play of the night (and a statement for the season) when he went toe-to-toe with Tampa Bay's Steve Downie, winning the fight. He had two or three solid uppercuts, bloodying up the Lightning Right Winger.
His inspired fisticuffs seemed to charge the Panthers through the first two periods.
Third Line: Defenseman
23 minutes on ice, one assist, two shots on goal, minus-1 rating, one hit, one blocked shot.
At times Kulikov looked pretty good. But mostly he looked confused and lost. Not sure what's going on with the defenseman, but don't be surprised to see Keaton Ellerby get a start on Monday.
Third Line: Defenseman
24 minutes ice time, minus-1 rating, two blocked shots.
Weaver was rock solid on defense all night. He also contributed to the Panthers surprisingly good power play (eight shots on four power plays in the first) by keeping it in the zone on several occasions.
Theodore and the back judge getting their daily calisthenics
28 saves on 30 shots, first two periods of shutout hockey and a shootout shutdown.
A hockey team lives and dies with its goalie. Theodore had two shutout periods before showing that he isn't perfect in the third, giving up two goals in the final ten minutes. Still, he has given up a total of six goals over three hockey matches, is currently averaging a .930 save percentage and 1.97 goals against average.
If he keeps this up over the long haul, it isn't out of the question to see this club in the playoffs come April.