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Panthers Win Second Straight, Beat Lightning 6-0 in Home Opener

PANTHERS 6, LIGHTNING 0

BY GEORGE RICHARDS
grichards@MiamiHerald.com

Panthers coach Pete DeBoer has often said that for his team to win, scoring needs to come from all over the ice.

In the first period of Saturday's home opener at BankAtlantic Center, just about everyone got onto the score sheet.

Eleven different players notched at least a point in a rousing first period as the Panthers jumped all over Tampa Bay with four goals. With Tomas Vokoun looking as good as ever, that lead was more than enough as Florida pummeled the Lightning 6-0 as the new-look Panthers continue to impress.

Saturday's win evened Florida's record through the first four games as the Panthers outscored Calgary and Tampa Bay 9-0 in consecutive wins. With 38 shots to Tampa Bay's 29, the Panthers have now outshot all four of their opponents this season.

Goalie Tomas Vokoun notched his second straight shutout and the 40th of his career. The Lightning were shutout five times last season.

“Things are improving from a confidence standpoint on this team,'' said Vokoun, who has stopped 99 of 104 shots faced in four starts to open the season. “We played two good games and didn't win either of them but we stuck to the gameplan. We were good again tonight, hung around the net and scored a lot of goals by our standards.''

The Panthers didn't waste any time in going after goalie Dan Ellis, firing off four shots in the opening shift. Ellis stopped those, but 1:50 into the period, Cory Stillman took advantage of some nice passing from Bryan McCabe and Radek Dvorak, beating Ellis from the slot to make it 1-0.

Florida continued to pester Ellis and sent him to the bench later in the period as the Panthers scored twice within a 48 second span. David Booth got his first goal by slipping the puck past defenseman Randy Jones to make it 2-0.

With 4:47 left in the period, Steven Reinprecht made it 3-0 when he corralled a loose puck near the crease after Ellis made a save and popped it into the open net. With that, Ellis' night was over as Mike Smith took over between the pipes.

“It was a nice start at home,'' said McCabe. “We're only 2-2 but could easily be 4-0. We're going to win a lot of games if we keep playing the way we are. We're hard to compete against. It's really nice to see.''

The large opening night crowd continued to enjoy the party later in the period as Dennis Wideman got Florida's first power play goal since April 10 when he sliced a shot from the left circle. Florida's power play – ranked 29th out of 30 teams last season – had gone 0-for-11 this season until Wideman's big shot beat Smith.

In the third, Booth picked up his second goal of the game as he and Olesz rushed down on a 2-on-1 chance, with Olesz's pass going between the skates of Mike Lundin. Booth fired at Smith and the puck skipped off his skate and into the net. Olesz later finished his three-point night off as he got his second goal of the season off a pass from McCabe.

The Panthers shutout of the Lightning is impressive on its own since Tampa Bay has as powerful a top two lines as any team in the league with the likes of Vinny Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. And Florida did so with only five defensemen for much of the night after Jason Garrison left the game with a groin injury.

“You never relax, not with a team like that,'' DeBoer said. “We were squeezing it right to the last buzzer. You're not going to have nights like that, so it's nice to do it front of our home fans in the home opener.''

Comments

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Wow.This is NO fluke.The Panthers pestered and stymied Tampa all nite.Matthias is maturing and Olesz is giving 100%.Santorelli has great speed and is learning.I never thought things were going to be this good.Four solid efforts and they are getter better each Vokoun is a top tier goalie.

we knew wed get good efforts every night ... when u have a top 5 goalie to go with it and u just never know ...

By far the best team we have had in a while. Its nice to see a team that shows up to play night in and night out. The problem with the teams of the past have not been lack of talent but lack of will. Tallon has shown that he will not put up with not giving 100% every night and it shows. I disagreed with cutting Grabner but Tallon said it was because of his lack of effort in training camp and preseason. Its nice to see that they refuse to put a product on the ice that is just satisfied to be playing. I would rather support a team that lacks talent but has heart and shows up every night than a talented team that plays for themselves like we have had in the recent past. Good ridance Horton, Bouwmeester, and Jokinen. Have fun playing for your contracts and not the cup.

This is what I expected a DeBoer team to look like, Constant attack, all 4 lines contributing, working hard all game.

I know Pete is saying he finally has the depth to play this way, but the question is, can this team play like this all year. We'll see, but I hope so. Btw, Olesz is playing with heart and grace again. He really is that good and I'd love to see a break out year.

Well well, did you expect this rapid a change? Six new players, a new general manager, some old faces gone....and we get this beautiful team effort? Relentless checking and bothering and poke checking? Nifty break out passes, speed thru the neutral zone, all out attack in the offensive zone? Stealing passes creating odd man rushes? And it's a three period burage with little or no penalties? That's a Rx for success. Tallon said he wanted guys who wanted to be here and were willing to do what it takes and make it hard for teams to play us.....well so far his vision is coming true. Shades of yesteryear! If this keeps up tell your friends they better buy tickets!!!!

Great recap Blabber.Nice to see the knowledgeable fans now turning positive.All we can ask now is this all out 100% effort and we are getting it.I dont think we have enough talent to make playoffs this year with ATL TOR Tampa and the Isles on rise but who knows with Vokoun and luck with injuries anything is possible.Its fun going to the rink again.Good riddance BOUW,BALLARD,HORTON adios.I do wish Anderson all the best.GO PANTHERS!!!

litespeed agree with all XCEPT ballard, like him or not always gave 100%.

wow not only do we have guys in the slot, we even had two guys in the slot on a couple of shifts at the same time!!!!!!

amazing what happens when the effort is there and you go to the spots where goals are scored.

I feel like I am watching the early panther years again, great goaltending, hard work and timely goals from the slot.

Did not expect this type of output this fast, did expect the goaltending and effort.

Now the next test, in the years past we would put together a great effort for 2-3 games then sit back because the papers said we are doing great.

the country club is gone, JM the GM is gone, Sexton is gone, Horton is gone, Jokinen is gone, Bouwmeester is gone.

Hard work pays off!!!!, go cats.

after 4 games, you gotta love the brilliant commentary. "by far the best team we've had in a while"? not at all. they are just playing the way they need to. simple as that. they played for stretches like this 2 years ago. that's why they finished with the 2nd best record in franchise history. the ability to carry a couple of extra players probably helps more than anything (i.e,, any one player who was added). what remains to be seen is how long they can keep this up and how they respond when they hit a rough patch. that killed them 2 years ago.

"horton/jay playing for contracts instead of the cup"? lmao. yeah, that's right.

you have to like the effort to instill some pride, though. i'm not sure what effect that is having but all the little things probably do contribute a bit.

and sorry to say it but just about every poster here looks like a shill. are you all working for the ticket office? are you all the same person? if so, you gotta be more subtle. "tell your friends they better buy tickets!!!"??? UGH.


Just 4 games but so far, so good. If it continues for the whole season, we WILL be in the playoffs. Funny though, haven't read any post from the Dale Tallon bashers yet. Although I'm pretty sure I'm reading some that were bashing him before the season even started and are now posting the teams praises. No flip flopping!!! No one wants to read your call for Tallon's head and/or love for an overrated Jay Bouwmeester or bratty Nathan Horton when and if (like most teams) the team goes on a 3-4 game losing streak at some point in the season.

zerog u sound like a disgruntled ex panther employee.
we are just appreciating the effort, enjoying the games, being entertained.
personally, id rather see these guys lose then jayblo or Snorton ever again..

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