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Sunk by the Hurricanes: Florida Panthers Blow Early 3-0 Lead, Lose 4-3 in Sunrise

Titanic After a crummy loss in Raleigh last year, then-general manager Randy Sexton used the Titanic as a comparison when talking about his team.

The famous 'Letter from the Owners' came soon afterward.

I wonder what Randy would say about this one?

You can guess the kind of language Dale Tallon was using after the game. Lets just say they won't need to salt the popcorn in the press box for a few weeks.

HURRICANES 4, PANTHERS 3

BY GEORGE RICHARDS
grichards@MiamiHerald.com

The Panthers have blown their share of big leads to divisional rival Carolina over the past few years, but even Wednesday's debacle had some players unable to come up with words to describe it.

Coach Pete DeBoer and goalie Tomas Vokoun were not among that group.

“It's inexcusable to lose a lead like that,'' DeBoer said after his team watched visiting Carolina score four unanswered goals to beat the Panthers 4-3 at BankAtlantic Center. “There's no sugarcoating it. We didn't get any of the right plays at the right times from our goaltender on out. It's inexcusable at this time of year, the importance of that game. Not more you can say than that.''

Vokoun, who gave up three goals – including two to Tuomo Ruutu – in the third period, was pretty hard on himself after the loss. Florida had led 3-0 just over six minutes into the game.

“This one hurts, it's probably the toughest loss in my career,'' Vokoun said. “What can I say? It was my mistake, I can't make that at this time of the year. I'm disappointed in myself and there are no excuses. I can't do anything now to fix it. It's tough.''

Carolina, which had lost five of its past six games, pulled its goalie just minutes into the game but stuck around as the Panthers did little for much outside of those opening few minutes.

As expected, the Hurricanes finally woke up, scoring their first goal with just over five minutes left in the second when Erik Cole followed up a shot from 18-year-old center Jeff Skinner to make it 3-1. Carolina cut the deficit to just one early in the third when Jamie McBain knocked a rebound past Vokoun.

The Panthers did themselves in late in the third as both Michael Frolik and Jason Garrison were called for penalties 54 seconds apart. Tuomo Ruutu tied the score when he scored during Carolina's two-man advantage, then got the game-winner a few minutes later when he whipped a shot from the slot on Carolina's 31st shot of the night.

Carolina had been 0-11-1 when trailing going into the third period.

Florida chased Ward early as Evgeny Dadonov got his first NHL goal just 29 seconds into the game and Frolik scored his seventh of the season just over a minute later. Florida had a two-man advantage of its own later in the first with Bryan McCabe getting a power play goal by one-timing a shot from beyond the right circle. Replacement goalie Justin Peters gave up that McCabe goal but was strong for much of the night.

KULIKOV BENCHED

DeBoer made second-year defenseman Dmitry Kulikov a healthy scratch for the first time in the 20-year-old's career. Kulikov hasn't had a strong sophomore season, and with Bryan Allen back from a broken foot and Keaton Ellerby still up from the minors, DeBoer had an extra spot to play with.

“I think it’s been a while coming,'' DeBoer said. “We tried to let him play his way through it. I think his play has gotten better but there's still too much inconsistency night to night. .-.-. I think he’ll benefit from sitting up top and watching. Frankly, he hasn’t outplayed Keaton Ellerby lately. Ellerby deserves to play.''

-- DeBoer said Cory Stillman's fractured disc in his back will not require surgery – and Stillman could start light skating Thursday. Rostislav Olesz, DeBoer said, is close to returning from his broken finger.

-- Prospects Erik Gudbranson and Quinton Howden – first round picks this past June – were selected for Team Canada's entry in the upcoming world junior tournament held in Buffalo. “Next to playing in the Stanley Cup Final,'' DeBoer said, “I don’t think theres a greater thrill than representing your country on a national stage like that in a big tournament on Christmas. That’s great for them.''

FAN TALK

Panthers owner Cliff Viner joined team president Michael Yormark, general manager Dale Tallon and assistant general manager Mike Santos hosted a 'town hall' meeting with select fans prior to Wednesday's game in Sunrise.

“We're all in this together. Everyone wants the Panthers to win,'' Tallon said. “No one wants to go through nine, 10 years of not being in the playoffs. Everyone here has the same objective and that's to win the Stanley Cup. .-.-. There's no easy fix. Let's embrace the process and look for solutions, not excuses. That's the message to our players, our coaches, our scouts, our coaches. Find a way to get it done.''

When challenged by a fan, Yormark vehemently defended the team's efforts in selling tickets to fans of other teams – the team is marketing home games in cities like Montreal, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia -- saying he wished the team didn't have to do that.

“It's about economics,'' Yormark said. “We need to fill this building every single game and we're selling hockey here. We need to take advantage of being a destination market for snowbirds and vacationers and put hockey fans in the building. I understand the frustration, and if all things were equal, I wish we didn't have to do that.''

Comments

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different players this year yet the same result. whats the constant? the junior coach PD...pls fire the guy tomorrow, the team sat on their butts for 50 minutes..MR. VINER YOUR LETTER SPOKE OF ACCOUNTABILITY, LETS SEE IT IN THE NEXT 24HRS, OR DONT ASK FOR RENEWALS THIS JANUARY!!!!!!!!!!

More blah blah blah , less quality hockey games for the Panthers.

Please hold someone in coaching accountable for the players lack of effort in the last 2 periods. I was screaming get out of the Prevent Offense... no one listening... time for a change...

i called it when it was 3 nothing. seen it to many times. move to canada and spare us this misery.

Bench all the regulars... bring in the rest of Rochester.. or even the Everblades for the local fans... I would rather be proud of the youngsters effort than a bunch of washed up nobodies... PLEASE FIRE SOMEONE>>> START WITH THE POWER PLAY COACH... It worked for the Dolphins...

Another terrible effort by absent minded Vokoun who passes to a Carolina player up the middle who promptly flips it in right past the great Vokoun,.Thats 5 games he has blown by letting in soft goals or stupid mistakes.One good game and 3 bad games doesnt wash in the NHL.DeBoer should bench this guy and play the Clemmer.Vokoun was over-rated at Nashville because he played with the best defensive team in the western conference.Vokoun is way past his prime which was 2 years ago.I will not go to the Buffalo game if Vokoun starts again.

I know this is silly after the lousy game, but did anyone question Yormark about the Jet Blue jerseys??

I agree I think we need to bring in another proven NHL coach. I see the team taking steps backwards rather than forwards with Deboer.

BTW, the way you fill the arena is by winning games. The Panthers are blessed to have so many loyal fans despite the team's performance. If the Marlins played this poorly there would be much worse attendance. Unfortunately the team won't spend or can't afford the talent we need to improve the team. Combined with awful drafting and terrible trades is a recipe for disaster.

Oh, what a game tonight. Was really worth the 200 mile drive. By the way, what was up with the Booth bobblehead game deal tonight? Is that someones idea of a bad joke, considering the concussions this kid had?

George: you said it, "as expected", how many times have we seen this scene in the past 10 years.

This team has no finishers, is too soft, is easy to play against, and when they play a game that can change the perceptions they pull another loss from the teeth of victory.

longest win streat in the DeBoer years is 3. He is satisfied with where we are so far because of the number of road games we played?

We are 27th in the league after finishing 27th in the league last year, before the season started we talked about how much Tampa and Atlanta have improved and low and behold they are in position to make the playoffs and advance in the playoffs, we are stuck with Yormark's scouting department which has cost us bad drafts, bad trades and bad free agent signings.

This organization needs a make over from Yormark on down.

We need a new attitude where we expect to win instead of sitting back expecting something bad to happen.

Same old, same old, out of the playoff picture by Christmas, bring up the kids start waiving players that have no value, trade who you can and lets build this from scratch we need,

finishers, guys that don't accept losing, physical, fast players; play the kids bench the vets, lets see who can make it and who can't

Fire the junior inexperienced coach. It won't change the talent pool but it might allow the tram to not play a prevent offense for 50 minutes.

Just start the fire sale already. I want the Panthers to get a high pick in the lottery because they sure as heck aren't making the postseason. After last night's pathetic collapse, they sure as heck don't deserve it.

At what point does DeBoer start embarrassing and/or punishing the team? It's obvious nothing else has worked. After last night's collapse, there should have been a bag of pucks thrown on the ice and the Cats should have been worked until their legs fell off and their lungs rasped. If they don't care about losing they may care about not being in their cars and driving home before midnight.

The only thing I look forward to about next game is the healthy scratch list.

The only constant is the lack of top talent on this team, period. You can hate on Pete, but if you fire him you're still going to see the same results. You have a 2nd/3rd line on most teams posing as a top line here, have no top end scoring talent in the minors, and have a revolving door of players. That doesn't scream coach to me, it screams the organization is the major problem. We're only in year 1 of Tallon trying to fix that, so buckle up for what's gonna be a long ride Pantherfans.

what a joke debroer benches dadnov when hes there best player???
hey tallon i got a idea, you say have this blueprint well in chicago you brought in hossa?? a big elite player who young player feed off and traded for sharp ? what free agent have you picked up or superstar have you traded for ??? NONE. then you drafted kane who had way more points in junior then both are 1st round draft picks?? and you draft a defensemen SHUTDOWN by the way which you can get a dime a dozen in free agency we need offense we have been aying this for the past ten years?? good pass on skinner who barried are team tonight that could have been are kane good job hahaha? trade vokoun grab semin that can be are hossa and trade someone for another star like elias or somone on new jersey who are struggling! figure it out bud you cant have all your drafts on the ice and win ! put your golf clubs away

yorkman spends so much time adertising to get ppl in the place psssssssssssssssssssssh wake up spend some money and get a team and yo u will sell out wow wow wait thats to complicated for his brilliance

i hope you ppl start booooooooooooooooooing next game

look what tampa and atlanta did wow we still cant we are still the ahl team in the nhl just look matthias dadnov thomas garrison oh yeah we build through the ahl not free agency! send down matthias ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

also according to cap geek we are 9 million under the cap jus to let you fans know

*our... Not "ARE". If you want to be taken seriously, don't write like a retard.

The question was asked at the "COCA-COLA" (geez) town hall meeting last night about the poor job our scouting department has done in the past decade. Tallon's answer? "We fired the entire pro scouting staff and we also hired a European-specific scouting chief." He is revamping this organization from the top down. Santos is one of the best in the business with contracts. We are on the right track.

Viner said that next season 20 million is coming off the books (mostly in unwieldy contracts of overpaid players awarded by Martin and Sexton). Tallon has rid the Cats of some problems (Horton) and some miserable contracts (Ballard). He is well on his way to making this a competitive franchise. If you haven't had an opportunity to hear him speak about his plan, you should make every effort to get to a function that allows to you to hear him.

Last night's game was pathetic. DeBoer is on borrowed time. He is Martin's man, not Tallon's. Hulton is a complete joke and is only here because replacing him at this point is an expense that doesn't pencil in because it's too late to turn this season around. Tallon brought in Gord Murphy and our defense is among the best in the league... Ditto the Penalty Kill. Murphy is a Tallon hire, DeBoer is not. Hearing the type of coaching philosophy Tallon espouses, DeBoer simply does not fit the bill. If he returns next season, I will be shocked and disappointed. If let go, he will not be hired anywhere else in the league. He will return to Juniors (where he will be very successful).

Like Tallon said last night "It's a marathon, not a sprint." He can't help the ineptitude with which this place was run before he and Viner got here. Give them an opportunity to turn it around before giving up.

good post! what else went down at the hall ? did they talk about any guys they might be after free agency (semin)? wow twenty million is a lot!
ok guys with that much coming off next year they better make the playoffs if not i thinks tis over in south florida

everyone talks about how yorkman only wants to fill the arena some 41 times a year. has anyone seen this arena filled lately?

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