TERMINAL 3, FORT LAUDERDALE/HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AT DANIA BEACH YET NEAR PLANTATION, MIRAMAR AND LAUDERDALE LAKES -- The Panthers are airborne and heading to Washington after enjoying their lengthy homestand in which they beat Colorado on Tuesday night.
Yeah, one game does not a homestand make.
If you missed it -- and judging by the attendance, you did -- it was a pretty gutsy game the Panthers pulled out in overtime. Nice win.
If you didn't get a yarmulke as some of you were promised, you're probably not alone. This whole yarmulke promotion has turned into a bit of a nightmare, although the Panthers probably aren't too concerned. At least people are talking about them in national circles again.
Anyway, Bryan Allen is out for tomorrow's game at Washington but Pete DeBoer says he could be back Saturday against the Predators. A full weekend in Nashville. Nice.
About to board my flight, so here's today's early notebook.
See you in Washington. Looking forward to picking some apples. Maybe catch a SuperSonics game.
What's that you said?
After not producing a whole lot for the better part of a month, the Panthers have indeed received top play from their top players over the past few games.
It really couldn't come at a better time.
The Panthers are a banged up bunch, with some line combinations resembling what the Rochester Americans of the AHL used not too long ago.
Florida has four of its regular forwards out – not counting Byron Bitz, who has played in just seven games since coming to the Panthers last March – because of injury and are making do with what they have.
In Tuesday's come-from-behind win against the Avalanche, Florida got its first goal from one of the Rochester guys as Bill Thomas got his first goal since he was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins back during the 2008-09 season.
After that, however, all of Florida's scoring came from players the Panthers desperately need to be scoring.
With the Panthers trailing 2-1 in the second, Stephen Weiss scored to tie it going into the second intermission. After a quick Colorado score to open the third, David Booth scored a beautiful goal to tie it again. In overtime, it was Weiss following a Booth shot and beating former teammate Craig Anderson to win the game. Weiss' goal was his second game-winner in just over a week; his shootout goal beat Tampa Bay on Nov. 27.
Weiss, Booth and Michael Frolik combined for two goals (both by Weiss) and eight assists over a nine-game span from Nov. 16-Dec. 1. In the past three games, the trio have five goals and three assists.
“It's a good start and it's coming at the right time,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “The reality is we couldn't survive another 20 games with those three going cold for much longer. Look at Pittsburgh. They've won 10 straight because Sidney Crosby is on fire. Same with Tampa Bay at the start of the season with Steven Stamkos.
“Now, I'm not comparing our guys to those guys, but really, they have that kind of importance to our team. We really need to turn the corner right now with them and it hasn't been because of a lack of effort. We barely kept our head above water without major contributions from them. It wasn't going to last much longer.''
-- The Panthers traveling medical show, for the most part, isn't going on this two-game road trip. DeBoer said that defenseman Bryan Allen will be on the trip, but will not play Thursday against the Capitals. Allen could be back in the lineup Saturday at Nashville.
The rest of Florida's injured players – Cory Stillman (back spasms), Rostislav Olesz (finger), Radek Dvorak (shoulder), Bitz (sports hernia) and Chris Higgins (foot) – will not travel. Dvorak was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday to make room for Evgeny Dadonov.
-- Scott Clemmensen said Tuesday that he wasn't upset at missing a start even though he stopped 40 shots and beat the host Coyotes on Saturday night. DeBoer said Monday that Vokoun would return to the net against the Avalanche.
“There's a lot of hockey left to be played, not only the rest of the year but this month, the next few weeks,'' Clemmensen said. “When you get the chance, do the best you can. I'll do that in the next start. Win or lose, you move on. That's the nature of this game, we play three or four times a week.
“You obviously want to play, but I'm not sulking because I'm not starting. I didn't assume I would. My role on this team is to be ready, not play back-to-back games.''
THURSDAY: PANTHERS AT CAPITALS
When, Where: 7 p.m.; Verizon Center, Washington
TV/Radio: FSNF; 560-WQAM
The series: Capitals lead 45-38-5
The game: This is the first meeting between the teams this season. The Capitals have lost three straight games-- including the past two at home. The Panthers are coming off consecutive overtime wins – the first time the team has won two straight in almost a month. The Panthers haven't won in Washington since March 1, 2009. Washington swept the six-game series from Florida last season.