From The Press Box


From The Press Box is a weekly column written by FloridaPanthers.com and NHL.com writer Alain Poupart. Poupart has been covering the Panthers and the NHL for 20 years.

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A Victory To Build On

In snapping their losing streak against the mighty Ducks, the Panthers showed the kind of hockey they’re capable of playing

Wednesday, 11.13.2013 / 3:00 PM ET / From The Press Box
By Alain Poupart  - FloridaPanthers.com
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A Victory To Build On

The Panthers have played some of their best hockey this season against the elite teams of the NHL, so maybe it made sense they would snap their frustrating losing streak against the Anaheim Ducks.

On Finnish Fan Night, Teemu Selanne and the Ducks came to the BB&T Center with the most points of any team in the league and carrying the longest active winning streak at five games.

Anaheim rookie Frederik Andersen had become the first goalie since 1993 to win his first six NHL decisions and was shooting to become the first since 1982 to win his first seven.

Even with Ducks leading scorer Ryan Getzlaf out of the lineup with an upper-body injury, it was quite a formidable challenge for the Panthers. And then it got tougher less than a minute into the game when Anaheim took advantage of a defensive zone coverage mistake and a pretty centering pass to take a 1-0 lead.

Before the first period would end, the score had moved to 2-0 and it wasn’t 3-0 only because Tim Thomas stopped Corey Perry on a breakaway.

But the Panthers refused to quit or accept defeat. They just kept pushing and pushing and pushing, and came all the way back for an impressive 3-2 victory that had all the ingredients we thought all along the Panthers would need.

You can start with the consistent effort, the kind we haven’t seen quite often early in the season. The game-winning goal, for example, came after some relentless fore-checking by rookie Aleksander Barkov, Brad Boyes and Scottie Upshall.

There was some impressive goaltending by Thomas. He said after the game he “felt terrible” in the first period, adding he was fighting the puck. Even though he was beaten by a clean wrist shot on Anaheim’s second goal, it certainly wasn’t his fault the Panthers trailed by two at the first intermission.

Regardless, Thomas was flawless the rest of the game and his spectacular leg save on a redirect by Emerson Etem with about two minutes left preserved the 3-2 lead.

And the Panthers also had some luck — finally. Upshall’s game-tying goal in the second period was a fluke, clearly, but it’s not like the Panthers weren’t due some good fortune.

That said, hard-working teams, good teams, make their luck. Generally speaking, the more you skate, the harder you work, the more you’re around the puck, the better your chances of something good happening.

Given the way the Panthers played over the weekend at Ottawa and New York, it seemed inevitable the losing streak would end soon. The challenge now for the Panthers is to bring that kind of effort each and every game.

That was the message provided by interim head coach Peter Horachek after the game last night. For his first victory as an NHL head coach, Horachek could have done worse than winning at home, against the team with the best record in the league, and after watching his squad overcome an early deficit.

But Horachek wasn’t concerned about his personal accomplishment, he just talked about his goal for the team — namely to become consistent and to cut out the giveaways that have hurt the Panthers this season.

Despite their record, the Panthers have shown they can be competitive. They played Boston evenly at the BB&T Center before the Bruins got a game-winning goal in the final minute; they actually outplayed the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks before Chicago prevailed in a shootout; they handled the powerful Penguins in the home opener in their most impressive victory of the season.

The Panthers, though, haven’t been consistent enough, which is why the coaching change was made last week. In the three games under Horachek, the Panthers have put together solid efforts but there still have been patches of erratic play.

That’s the next step for this team. For the last 40 minutes of the game Tuesday night, the Panthers played playoff-caliber hockey. They’ll need that kind of effort on a consistent basis if they want to make their upcoming five-game road trip a success.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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