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The Florida Panthers Fall to Minnesota in a Wild Overtime Loss: A Fan’s Take
The game against the Wild didn't lack excitement. I thought the Panthers had it locked up as the third period was winding down. The Cats were leading 2-1 and the Wild had pulled their goalie for an extra skater when Erik Christensen of the Wild picked up a loose puck in front of the Panthers' net with only 31 seconds left on the clock. The game went into overtime and Mikko Koivu scored the game winning goal only 15 seconds into the overtime period.
One big positive that I saw in this game was the Cats' power play efficiency. Scottie Upshall kicked off the scoring with a beautiful power play goal with assists from Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell. The Panthers' power play hasn't exactly been the best in the NHL this year but they seem to be clicking lately. Upshall has been injured for the better part of the season. His last goal was back on Oct. 29, but he may have gotten his groove back at just the right time.
Thomas Fleischmann also put one in the net on a power play late in the third period with assists by Jason Garisson and Brian Campbell. I'm glad to see these guys are able to find the net late in the game when they need to most. It seems like they have addressed many of the weaknesses that were exposed earlier in the season.
I'm also happy about the fact that guys like Fleischmann, Campbell, and Kris Versteeg have stepped into leadership roles on the team. All three of these guys were signed in the off-season. They are new to the Cats but they aren't new to the league and they have shown why new Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon brought them on.
No one was happy about the overtime loss but hockey players have to have short memories. The Cats have to forget about the bitter defeat and get ready to lace up the skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday Mar. 30. The Blue Jackets certainly aren't the best team in the NHL but despite their record, they have some dangerous weapons in Rick Nash and Vinny Prospal.
The Cats need every win they can get in order to win the division. They have looked good lately but they are only a few points in front of the Washington Capitals. They will face the Caps on Apr. 5 in their second to last game of the season. If the Panthers drop a couple of these last games and the Caps manage to win a few, that game could be for all the marbles.
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