The Florida Panthers Keep Rolling to the Playoffs With a Big Shootout Win: A Fan’s Take

The Florida Panthers moved closer to clinching the NHL's Southeast Division with their overtime shootout win against the Montreal Canadians 3-2 on Mar. 27.

Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver
httpcommons.wikimedia.orgwikiFileMike_Weaver_2_2012-03-09.JPG

Playoff fever is catching on in South Florida. Most years in March, I am thinking about who the Cats may be able to get in the NHL draft. This year is different and the big win against the Habs gives me hope that the boys will keep up the pace over the next two weeks and earn their first playoff appearance in over ten years.

Overtime Losses

The win in Montreal was big for several reasons. It signified the Cats' first sweep of the Habs in franchise history. The Panthers came into Montreal fresh off of two consecutive overtime losses. The shootout against the Canadians was a tough test. The Canadians' goaltender Carey Price was a brick wall who had 34 saves for the night. The overtime win was big for the Cats not only because it expanded their lead in the division against the Washington Capitals, but also because their visit to Montreal was the first game in a difficult four game road trip that will end in Detroit on Apr. 1. With the way the Panthers have looked this season, I wouldn't be surprised if they could pull a nice April fool's joke on the Detroit Red Wings.

Scott Clemmensen vs. Carey Price

Carey Price is one of the top net minders in the NHL today. As of Mar. 27 he had a .917 save percentage, 2.42 goals against average, and 26 wins on the season. Price lived up to his numbers against the Panthers. The Cats poured 36 shots on goal and Price saved all but two of them.

Scott Clemmensen got his 22nd start of the season against the Habs. Clemmy is the backup goaltender to the Cats' starter Jose Theodore. To put it into perspective, Price has won more games than Clemmy has played in this year. Despite being second fiddle, he played like an all-star against the Habs. Clemmensen faced 27 shots and allowed 2 goals but more importantly he held strong in the shootout and was able to lift the Panthers to a big win.

The Road Ahead

The Cats will continue their road trip on Mar. 29 when the visit the Minnesota Wild. The Wild has a loosing record for the season but I remember when they got the best of the Panthers not too long ago when they beat the Cats 3-2 on Feb. 23.

A win at Joe Lois arena against the Red Wings on Apr. 1 would be a huge boost for the Cats moving forward to the division title. It will be a big challenge on enemy ice. In franchise history the Panthers have only notched up four wins against the Red Wings. All hope is not lost though. As of Mar. 27 both of the Red Wings' goaltenders, Jimmy Howard and Joey MacDonald were listed as day-to-day with various injuries.

More from this Contributor:

Florida Panthers' Defense Finally Back at Full Strength: A Fan's Take

Just in Time for a Playoff Run Dmitry Kulikov is Close to a Return: A Fan's Take

A Tough Road Awaits the Panthers as They Chase the Playoff Dream: A Fan's Take

Sources:

Montreal Canadians vs. Florida Panthers Box Score

Florida Panthers Schedule

NHL Stats

Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando , Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein

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Updated Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012