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Jacob Markstrom Opens Eyes in Florida Panthers Win ... Shawn Matthias Makes Strong Bid to Stay with Team

PlanteMONTREAL – Many a great goalie has honed his game in Quebec, from the days of Jacques Plante, Gump Worsley and Rogie Vachon to Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and now Marc-Andre Fleury. 

The Panthers have had one Quebecois make a real name for himself in net over their 18 seasons as Roberto Luongo holds a true part of Florida's history of having top goaltending.

Florida has another Quebec product right now in Jose Theodore.

But the Panthers future in net comes direct from Sweden.

Markstrom3Don't believe the hype? Then you didn't watch Jacob Markstrom absolutely shut down an Islanders team charging fast-and-furious in the third period of Florida's eventual 4-2 win on Saturday night. 

“This kid can play,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “He really put an exclamation point on that [Saturday].''

Theodore, Florida's potential starter through next season, excused himself from Saturday's game during the second intermission after cramping up. Theodore only faced 10 shots in the first 40 minutes and just couldn't get loose. The Islanders came much harder in the third period against the 21-year-old whom the Panthers took with the first pick of the second round in the 2008.

And even though Theodore had success in Montreal, the Panthers could give Markstrom his second career NHL start here against the Canadiens on Monday.

Markstrom, drafted by current Canadiens coach Jacques Martin, lived up to his billing as the Panthers 'goalie of the future' on Saturday.

After a strong performance – despite taking a loss – in his first NHL start last Tuesday in Washington, Dineen had no problem going to the bullpen when Theodore was hurting. Markstrom was phenomenal in making 18 saves to grab Saturday's win.

He came in with the score tied at 2 and held off the Islanders late charge after Tim Kennedy gave Florida the lead. The Islanders gave everything they had in the final minutes, a bum-rush at the net with a two-man advantage either by double penalties or by pulling goalie Evgeny Nabokov. 

When Shawn Matthias sprinted out of the penalty box in the final minute and pushed a puck into the empty net, the crowd cheered. Markstrom only exhaled. The battle was over. 

“He really showed what a pro he is,'' goalie coach Markstrom4Robb Tallas said. “To come into a game like that and basically win the game for us is huge. He has a lot of composure for a young guy. He made corrections from his previous game and that's what won for us.''


With the Panthers trading David Booth to the Canucks on Saturday for two veteran forwards, competition for roster spots is going to be tough on Florida's forwards – especially with the injured Mike Santorelli and Sean Bergenheim expected back soon. 

Matthias tried proving he deserved to stay by deftly assisting on goals by Matt Bradley and Kennedy on Saturday – then scored into the empty net to seal the win.

Matthias2“I just didn't want to miss,'' he joked. “I didn't want to be on the low-lights.''

Matthias missed Thursday's game and Friday's practice with the stomach flu before coming in on Saturday and having one of his best NHL performances.

“All I can control is how I play,'' Matthias said. “I can't let things distract me or mess with me. It's easy to over think things, can sneak into your head. I think I've learned to just do my thing, control what I can control.''

-- Booth is just the latest to take part in the Vancouver-Sunrise pipeline. Last year, the Canucks
lost to Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals with six former Panthers in their lineup.

The first major trade between the franchises came in Tallonvan1999 when Florida sent Ed Jovanovski to the Canucks for Pavel Bure. 

Other deals between the two teams included: Florida sending Luongo west (for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and Alex Auld) in 2006; defenseman Keith Ballard going to the Canucks for a draft pick and current Islanders winger Michael Grabner in 2010; and trading Booth for Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm on Saturday.

Since joining the Panthers, GM Dale Tallon – the first draft pick by the expansion Canucks in 1970 – has made four deals with Vancouver.