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57 posts from November 2011

November 30, 2011

Jose Theodore Bringing It ... Keaton Ellerby Ready to Go with Dmitry Kulikov Out ... Mark Cullen Happy to Be Back in the Show ... Cats-Kings on Thursday

TheocelebrateRALEIGH, N.C. – Remember how bad Jose Theodore looked during the Panthers preseason? Seems like a long, long time ago.

Theodore has been terrific for the Panthers this season, and put many questions following a shaky training camp to rest after shutting out the Islanders 2-0 in the season opener. 

“We're well beyond how stinky he was in training camp,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “Part of the advantage he had was he was a veteran and I was able to believe in him. Give him the benefit, believe in the resume that he could go out and do it. Since the beginning of the year, he's given us a chance to win every night.''

Since that night, Theodore has won 10 games with a point in three of his losses. On Tuesday, he gave up one goal as the Panthers won their NHL-tying best seventh road game. 

Coming into the season, Florida's goaltending was a question mark as starter Tomas Vokoun left the team and landed in Washington. Theodore was pegged as Vokoun's replacement and has fared well. Going into Wednesday, Theodore has stopped 92 percent of shots faces and is allowing an average of 2.29 goals per game. 

Vokoun, whose Capitals trail the Southeast Division leading Panthers by five points, trails Theodore in both save percentage and goals-against. Both have 10 wins this season. 

“It is always good to start the season off on the right foot,'' Theodore said. “The team is playing great and I'm feeling good.''

Although Dineen jokes that he was lying a bit when he said he wasn't concerned about Theodore's uneven showing in training camp now, Theodore says he stands by what he said at that time. “You remember,'' he said. “It didn't bother me.'' 

Now in his 14th NHL season, Theodore said in September that he wasn't worried, that when the lights of the regular season came on, he would be ready. 

The Panthers weren't too sure. Before Scott Clemmensen needed knee surgery, there were rumblings that he may open the season on Long Island instead of Theodore. When Clemmensen went down, the Panthers went all in with Theodore. So far, so good.

There's little doubt Theodore enjoys being Florida's top goalie after spending last season as the backup in Minnesota. Theodore was thankful for that opportunity, mind you, after not being signed during the summer of 2010. An injury led to the Wild signing Theodore on the eve of the 2010-11 season opening. 

“Last year was still a good experience for me and my career,'' said Theodore, who signed a two-year deal with the Panthers on July 1. “I had to find wins when I played, even though I didn't play every game. Right off the bat when I came here, they told me they wanted me to be the guy. I knew it was a challenge, my job to lose. But you still have to prove yourself every night. It's fun.''

Unlike Minnesota, Theodore had time to come to South Florida and get settled. With some family already living in the Boca Raton area, Theodore knew a little bit about the region and wanted to be here. Theodore isn't the only one comfortable with that arraignment. The Panthers are as well. 

“Jose has the ball and he keeps running with it,'' Dineen said. “It's a ground game right now and he keeps going and going and going. He's doing a great job.''


The Panthers have carried seven defensemen throughout the season with rookie Erik Gudbranson and Keaton Ellerby alternating games. With Dmitry EllerbyKulikov out for the foreseeable future after taking a nasty cut to the right leg Tuesday, both Gudbranson and Ellerby are expected to play together when the Panthers visit Los Angeles Thursday night. 

“This is just part of the game. Injuries happen so you have to be ready to step in,'' said Ellerby, who has played in 11 of Florida's 24 games this season. “We both have a little experience under our belt right now so we just need to keep working and keep this thing going.''

() Mark Cullen played in his first NHL game since Nov. 9, 2006 on Tuesday and said while he's excited for the opportunity, he knows it can be pulled away at any time. The Panthers are expected to get veteran Mikael Samuelsson in the lineup soon, so Cullen's stay may be short. 

Cullen, 33, signed with the Panthers last season but tore his Achilles tendon on the first day of training camp. Cullen was limited to just 28 games at AHL Rochester last year but resigned with the Panthers and recorded 12 points off two goals in 19 games with San Antonio before being recalled Sunday. 

“It was very enjoyable. It's been a long time coming,'' said Cullen, who played in 32 NHL games from 2005-06 with Chicago and Philadelphia. “I had a lot of fun out there.''


When, Where: 10:30 p.m.; Staples Center, Los Angeles

GretzTV/Radio: FSN; WQAM-560

The series: Kings lead 11-8-3

The game: This is Florida's first and only trip to the west coast this season. The Panthers play at San Jose on Saturday before flying home. The Panthers are coming off a 3-1 win in Carolina on Tuesday and have an NHL-leading eight road wins. The Kings, who had lost two straight and three of four before topping the Sharks on Monday, are 7-6-1 at home. 

November 29, 2011

Panthers Notebook: Dmitry Kulikov Cut, Out for Time Being ... Kris Versteeg Not Happy with Non Call ... Kirk Muller Comes Full Circle

Kulikov (2)RALEIGH -- The Panthers may have lost defenseman Dmitry Kulikov for an extended period of time after he got sliced in the lower right leg by the skate of Eric Staal in the second period.

Kulikov raced off the ice after getting caught and didn't return because of the deep laceration.

Not only will Kulikov need some healing time, but teams are reluctant to let players go back too soon in these kind of cases because of the fear of serious infection. When Kulikov returns is not known.

Kulikov was stitched up by a local doctor and didn't have to be taken to an area hospital. Coach Kevin Dineen said Kulikov will travel to California with the team later Tuesday night.

“It's deep but it's not long,'' Dineen said of the cut. “You certainly saw some stuff in there and you don't see that too often. The doctor did a great job [on stitches]. If you look at my face, you would say those guys did quick work to get me back out there. That was a fairly detailed job. The doctor did a hell of a job. It was scary for [Kulikov] but he had great medical attention.''

-- The Panthers were quite upset when Kris Versteeg was bloodied during the first period after being hit by Derek Joslin. Versteeg slowly skated to the ice where his face was worked on by athletic trainer Dave Zenobi on the Florida bench. 

At the end of the period, Versteeg waited to talk to a referee but didn't like the explanation. Before going through the tunnel to the locker room, Versteeg chucked his stick in frustration.

-- Hockey circles always seem to come around and that case is true with new Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller.

Not only was he roommates in Florida with current Panthers broadcaster Billy Lindsay, but his first roommate upon joining the Devils in 1984 was Dave Lewis. Who happened to be retained as an assistant from Paul Maurice's staff by Muller? Yes, Lewis.

“It's weird seeing some of these guys like Scott Mellanby, Stu Barnes, Brian Skrudland have these kind of jobs,'' Lindsay said. “You see them in a different light. From roommate in the NHL to coach, that's a long way.''

-- Jack Skille was awarded a penalty shot at 7:51 of the third period but was denied by Ward. It was Florida's second penalty shot of the season. Kopecky also was stopped on his last month against the Islanders.



Panthers Enjoying View from On Top, Beat Carolina 3-1 ... Cats Lead Capitals by 5 in Southeast ... Shawn Matthias Gets Two in Not-so-Pretty Win

VacatonRALEIGH, N.C. – The Panthers haven't had much luck nor success in recent years when playing on Carolina ice, so no matter how ugly Tuesday night's win over the Hurricanes was, Florida is going to enjoy it.

“They sure aren't going to hang that game in the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art,'' coach Kevin Dineen said moments after Florida topped the host Hurricanes 3-1 at RBC Center. “That wasn't our worst effort, it wasn't our best effort. It was one where you found a way. We did. It took a long time to put that thing to rest.''

The Panthers spoiled the NHL coaching debut of former Florida center Kirk Muller as he took over for the fired Paul Maurice on Monday. Muller, who played parts of three seasons with the Panthers from 1997-99, couldn't stem the Hurricanes losing ways as they have now dropped four straight and 11 of 14.

Florida, meanwhile, ended a two game slide and won its seventh road game of the season. And combined with Washington's loss to St. Louis, the Panthers padded their lead in the Southeast Division to a season-high five points over the Capitals.

“We did what we were told to do in the pregame meeting,'' said Shawn Matthias, who scored Florida's final two goals within the final 3:19 of the game. “We have a good hockey team, a hard-working team. We needed to get the two points and get back on track after two losses to Tampa.''

Carolina came out flying as expected, trying to impress the new coach as both Muller and general manager Jim Rutherford promised 'clean slates' for the slumping Canes. Carolina held Florida to just two shots in the opening 27 minutes, but the Panthers got things going and took a 1-0 lead on Tomas Fleischmann's power play goal midway through the second.

The Hurricanes tied it a minute later when second-year center Jeff Skinner got one past Jose Theodore (26 saves) and the game stayed deadlocked at 1 until late in the third.

“Getting the two points really sets the mood. If you want to have a good road trip, the first one really gets you going,'' said Theodore (10-4-3), who stopped all seven shots faced in the third. “We knew they would push the first half of the game, but we were up 1-0. The guys did a good job not panicking.''

The Panthers finally retook the lead with 3:19 left as Tomas Kopecky saved a clearing pass along the boards and alertly saw Matthias flash toward the net.

Kopecky slid a nice pace to Matthias who flipped the puck past Cam Ward (18 saves) to make it 2-1. With 49 seconds left, Matthias scored into an empty net.

November 28, 2011

Scott Clemmensen Back with Florida Panthers ... And Other Stuff


Miami Herald Writer

Scott Clemmensen has been spending too much time sitting around this season, and it definitely is not to his liking.

The Florida Panthers goalie, plagued by a series of injuries for almost the entire season, is finally feeling healthy and is ready to quit watching and start playing.

There’s only one catch. Clemmensen’s family – wife Vanessa and daughters 3-year-old Olivia and 3-month old Julia – have very much enjoyed having Daddy around. Now he’s leaving to join the team full-time, starting with him getting on a plane Monday afternoon after the Panthers’ morning workout at their Coral Springs training facility.

“It’s tough to leave them,” Clemmensen said. “Especially when the 3-year-old gives you a little guilt trip.”

Clemmensen, working out in goal rather than just skating, had a full practice Monday in preparation for the trip and tonight’s game against Carolina.

“For the first time in a long time, I feel good,” Clemmensen said. “I feel good about feeling good.”

Panthers coach Kevin Dineen is also feeling good about Clemmensen’s return. “He’s going to play,” Dineen said of the upcoming road trip. “The question is when. He’s a big part of our mix…a big part.”

Clemmensen, 34, started the year by needing knee surgery during training camp, followed by sitting out five weeks. With rehab over, he came back and played one game, and a grand game it was. He shut out Dallas 6-0 on Nov. 15.

Unfortunately, he unwillingly turned into a one-game wonder.

Before he could suit up again, he suffered a groin injury and hasn’t played since. It was frustration after frustration for the 6-2, 201-pounder. Now he’s determined to take a hockey stick to that frustration.

“It’s been that kind of year for me,” Clemmensen said. “Thus far, it has been real stop and go and I want more go.”

The injuries might have taken away Clemmensen’s mobility, but not his desire – particularly the desire to join his teammates in a meaningful way other than watching.

“The season is a quarter of the way done, so I want to get going,” Clemmensen said.

“The most frustrating part was the excitement generated during the offseason going into this year,” he said. “A lot of new faces on the team, and we were excited about moving forward. The start that we have so far has been great. It’s been frustrating for me to not contribute to that.

“I’ve gotten to know all these guys and want to play with them and contribute to the success that they’ve had so far and hopefully will continue to have.”

Clemmensen was jokingly told he might ruin his 0.00 goals-against-average by playing.

“I’ll put it on the line anytime,” he fired back quickly with a smile.

Any worries about injury recurrence.

“I took enough time off to let it [the groin] heal properly so that when I get back I don’t have to worry about it or baby it,” he said. “If I baby it, then I’m not ready to be back. It was one of those things that we made sure we took time to let it heal. Hockey in general, especially the goalie position, you can’t think at times, you’re just going to react. And at some point in the game your ability will take over, and if you have to think about things like an injury, you’re dead.

“I wanted to be sure everything was all set before I returned to the team. The way it has felt the past couple of days, I think we did a good job – we meaning me and the training staff.”

The Panthers are in the midst of a brutal stretch of their schedule in which they play seven of eight games on the road. That means Clemmensen will be away from home for a substantial time.

However, he knows one thing for sure. When he gets home, there will be a very happy family waiting for him. Particularly one certain 3-year-old.


--Forward Mikael Samuelsson skated Monday and will make the road trip.

--Rookie goalie Jacob Markstrom and forward Michael Repik were sent back down to San Antonio. Joining the team was center Mark Cullen, who is expected to play Tuesday night against Carolina as long as he clears waivers.

--Forward Tomas Kopecky did not skate at practice Monday, his second day off. Dineen said he was giving Kopecky “maintenance days.” He will be with the team in Raleigh.

--Forwards Matt Bradley (upper body) and Marcel Gol (head injury) will not make the trip. They will miss at least three games

Former Florida Center Kirk Muller New Coach of Carolina Hurricanes ... Debut Tuesday vs. Panthers and Former WhalerCane Kevin Dineen

MullerRALEIGH -- Kirk Muller spent parts of three seasons playing for the Florida Panthers.

Muller, who played in 19 NHL seasons, came to Florida at the end of the 1996-97 season, scoring a goal with two assists in the Panthers five-game series against the Rangers.

Muller is part of the last Florida team to win a postseason game as the Panthers won the opening game against New York but are 0-8 in playoff games since.

On Monday, Muller was named the new coach of theCarolina Hurricanes after Paul Maurice was fired for a second time by the organization.

Muller2Muller's first game as an NHL coach comes against the Panthers on Tuesday.

He'll see some familiar faces on Tuesday as former Panthers teammates Ed Jovanovski, Gord Murphy and Billy Lindsay are all still around in one capacity or another. 

“And I played with Kevin Dineen,'' Muller said during his introductory press conference at RBC Center on Monday evening.

“He's done a good job down there so far. I played in Florida for a couple years late in my career and they've done a nice job of turning things around. But our focus is here. I'm excited. It's here where we start rolling up our sleeves – even tonight – and come in tomorrow and start learning everyone. It's exciting. There's no break once it starts. It's going to be fun.''

General manager Jim Rutherford told me that he didn't make the coaching change just because the first-place Panthers are coming to town; no, this has been in the works for a couple weeks.

Rutherford has been talking to Muller – who spent five seasons as an assistant in Montreal before taking over AHL Milwaukee this summer – for at least a week.

Muller3Carolina's 4-3 loss at Ottawa wasn't so much a last straw, but a time in which Rutherford felt it was time. Rutherford is very close to Maurice and didn't want to make this move. But with losses in three straight and 10 of the past 13, something had to be done. Especially with everyone talking about this move being made.

“When things aren't going well,'' Rutherford said, “bad things happen. The cloud is hovering over you. The players who haven't played well or those who don't think they got the opportunity they thought they did have a chance to start with a new coach. It's a clean slate. Don't look at the stats and say 'I have a minus-10,' or 'I only have one goal.' It's all new now. This is what we do under the new coach.''

And no offense, but with a ton of games left, Florida's eight point lead over Carolina in the Southeast Division doesn't exactly look all that intimidating.

“We aren't too far away that we can't catch up,'' Rutherford said. “But this isn't a sprint. We don't expect to win the next 10 games and be right back up there. This is going to be a gradual move to get in there by January and February, then fight it out until the end.

"We don't want to give up on this season. We want to make a run at the playoffs. That's still our goal. There's still lots of time.''


When, Where: 7 p.m.; RBC Center, Raleigh, N.C.

TV/Radio: FSN; WQAM-560

The series: Hurricanes lead 48-34-11

The game: The Hurricanes fired coach Paul Maurice Dinnencaneson Monday after a 4-3 loss at Ottawa. The Canes have lost three straight and 10 of their past 13. Kirk Muller was named the new coach on Monday afternoon. Florida lost two straight – both to Tampa Bay – but have won seven of 12 away from Sunrise.

Panthers coach Kevin Dineen played parts of 10 seasons for the Hartford Whalers and moved south with the team when they became the Hurricanes. Dineen spent two seasons in Carolina from 1997-99.

The Hurricanes spent those first two seasons in Greensboro and moved to Raleigh in 1999.

Florida Panthers to Reward South Florida Students, Teachers

This looks pretty cool.

Here is the official release from the Panthers:

SUNRISE, Fla. – Sunrise Sports & Entertainment today announced three schools and education initiatives that will take place across South Florida throughout the 2011-12 NHL season.

The Florida Panthers will bring a “Healthy Habits” assembly show to multiple elementary schools across Broward County, while also supporting a Teacher of the Month initiative and a 3.0 Program for students who succeed in the classroom.  

In partnership with Publix, the Panthers “Healthy Habits” shows will educate students on the sport of hockey and the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.

Students will have a surprise visit from team mascot Stanley C. Panther during the show, as well as the chance to win numerous Florida Panthers prizes in a raffle drawing. Schools can schedule a “Healthy Habits” show by visiting


The Panthers and Publix have also launched a Teacher of the Month program – a five-month initiative that will recognize educators in the Broward County area for their accomplishments and impact on students.

From November through March of 2012, one teacher will be awarded the honor each month with a surprise visit from Stanley C. Panther, a commemorative certificate and a set of tickets to a Panthers home game, where they will be recognized for their contribution to the community. Teachers can be nominated by visiting


All teachers currently employed by a school (kindergarten, elementary, middle school, high school, vocational, special education) in the South Florida region are eligible to be nominated.

College, graduate and student teachers are not eligible for the award. 

The team has also launched the Florida Panthers 3.0 Program, an initiative to recognize students in the South Florida area for their academic achievements from December until the end of the school year in 2012.

Any student that has a grade point average of 3.0 or better (kindergarten, elementary, middle school, high school, special education) in the South Florida area is eligible to register.

Each Panthers 3.0 Program member will be rewarded with a free ticket to a Panthers game on Friday, Feb. 3, Sunday, Feb. 19 or Tuesday, March 13, where they will be recognized for their achievements.

The students will also have a chance to win prizes, including player-autographed merchandise. Additionally, the school with the most enrolled students in the 3.0 Program will win the Panthers Cup Trophy.

Students can enroll in the program by visiting


Canada's Team Panthers: Three on Canadian WJHC Tryout Roster

CanadaThree Florida prosects are expected to be part of Team Canada's entry in the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships.

Quinton Howden, who was on last year's team, was invited to the tryout camp as was Jonathan Huberdeau and Alex Petrovic.

Erik Gudbranson played on last year's team but is kind of busy with the Panthers these days.

Team USA should be announcing its camp roster soon. 

Panthers Monday Update: Scott Clemmensen, Mark Cullen Return; Michal Repik, Jacob Markstrom Back to AHL

RALEIGH -- I wasn't at practice today, but will be with the team throughout this long road trip that takes us all the way from Carolina to California. 

Once I get the full story from Bill Van Smith -- who covered the team for me -- will post it here.

The Panthers did make some roster moves today, putting Mark Cullen through re-entry waivers so to have him in the lineup tomorrow against Carolina. Cullen practiced with the team today.

So, too, did Scott Clemmensen and Mikael Samuelsson. Clemmensen will be with the team on this trip and could play in one of the two California games.

With Clemmensen back, Jacob Markstrom was sent back to AHL San Antonio. So, too, was Michal Repik.


Southeast Division Shakeup: Bruce Boudreau, Paul Maurice Fired ... Dale Hunter to Coach Caps, Kirk Muller in with Canes

CarolinaRALEIGH -- Hey, y'all. Just spent a few hours making the scenic drive from Charlotte to Raleigh, so sorry for no updates sooner.

Of course, I did relay information through Twitter. If you like up to the minute hockey information and haven't signed up yet, you should. And if you are on the Twit and don't follow us, well, you should do that to.

My Twitter handle is @OnFrozenPond

Come on by.

Anyway, the big news in the division is the firing of Bruce Boudreau and Paul Maurice on Monday.

I hear there is a press conference at RBC Center tonight to introduce former Canadiens assistant Kirk Muller as the new coach of the Canes.

Muller was a hot commodity for NHL vacancies last summer but didn't land one and took over at AHL Milwaukee. Didn't last long there, eh?

Neither of these moves were surprising as both teams struggle.

Boudreau, who was hired on Thanksgiving 2007, won 200 games faster than any coach in modern NHL history. But the Caps are struggling this season -- especially one Alex Ovechkin.

The Caps hired Dale Hunter as their new coach. 

"Bruce came in here and emptied the tank,'' GM George McPhee said according to AP.

"He gave it everything he could and did a really good job, but the tank was empty. When that happens, you get a new coach, where the tank is full and see if it makes a difference."

From AP: Hunter played for the Capitals from 1987-99, the last five seasons as captain, and is one of four players to have his jersey number retired by the franchise.

November 27, 2011

Panthers Try to Avoid Being Road Weary as 'Garbage' Schedule Gets Tougher

OscarTAMPA – Whomever came up with the Panthers schedule this season should probably steer clear of their locker room.

“It's a garbage schedule,'' Kris Versteeg said shaking his head. “But you can't complain about it, you just have to go out there and play hard every night and not worry about that. It's been pretty tough though with the games so far and the travel. I think we've done great with what we've been given.''

Said Stephen Weiss: “I don't even try and figure it out. I don't try to look too far down the schedule. It gets to be too much, a little too annoying.''

Only five teams – Winnipeg, Vancouver, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Edmonton – have played more road games than the Panthers.

InnoutFlorida is in the middle of a strange road trip, one that started Saturday in Tampa, brought them home for a Monday practice before resuming in Raleigh, N.C. From there, the Panthers fly cross-country to play in Los Angeles on Thursday and San Jose on Saturday.

The Panthers then fly all the way back home to play one game against Washington before hitting the road again.

It's a stretch of games that is almost reminiscent of Florida's old preseason schedule where the Panthers would seemingly travel anywhere for a paycheck. Almost. 

Planestrains“Well, at least they aren't back-to-back-to-back,'' Weiss joked. “It's another tough stretch. Carolina is always tough at home then we head west with no time to recover. We have to be sharp.''

Coach Kevin Dineen knows this is a crucial stretch of games and managing the schedule is something that has weighed on his mind.

Florida will fly through the night to Los Angeles after playing Carolina on Tuesday; with a game Thursday, there's no way around that. But Dineen decided, after consulting with his players, that the team will stay over in San Jose after Saturday's game and fly home Lucyon Sunday. With a game that following Monday against the Capitals, it's really a no-win proposition. 

The Capitals, meanwhile, will likely hold a practice in South Florida while the Panthers make the five-plus hour flight home from northern California. 

“It's a tough road trip. A really tough road trip,'' Dineen said. “I spent way too much time this summer wondering what we were going to do after the game San Jose. I went back and forth between flying home right after the game, wait until the morning, fly halfway. You can analyze it until the cows come home. It's going to be tough playing that Washington game. It's a lot of action in a short period of time.''

In Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Lightning, the Panthers definitely looked like a tired bunch one that had played five games in a span of eight nights. Things aren't going to get any easier. Starting in Carolina on Tuesday, the Panthers will play seven games in 13 nights. Only one of those comes on home ice.

Dineen gave the team Sunday off so they could relax with their families. They aren't going to see them for a while. 

Duedate“When you are tired, you have to play smarter than we did [Saturday],'' Sean Bergenheim said. “We have Sunday off to spend time with the family and that's a time to recharge yourself. We need to have more energy in the games coming up. That's the plan. Look at the big picture. We've played good, but looked a little tired in the past two games. That happens to everyone. We'll get over it.''

() Saturday's game was the fifth of six meetings Stormybetween Florida and Tampa Bay, meaning 22 percent of the Panthers games this season have been against the Lightning.

Aside from games against the Lightning, the Panthers haven't seen much of their divisional brethren this season playing Winnipeg twice and Washington once. Tuesday's game will be Florida's first of the season against Carolina.

“You have to get points where you can and we're going to see those teams a lot in a short period of time,'' Dineen said. 


November 26, 2011

Panthers Thunderstruck Again, Lose Third Straight to Lightning; Cats Outplayed, Outhustled in 5-1 Loss

LightningTAMPA – The Lightning sure look a lot healthier now than it did on Thanksgiving. All it took was a not-so-strong dose of the Florida Panthers. 

Tampa Bay came into the weekend series with Florida with losses in four of five as it was looking at a big deficit in chasing down the Panthers in the Southeast Division.

Two wins over its rivals from Sunrise and the Lightning are right back in the thick of things.

The Lightning now trail Florida by four points after Saturday night's 5-1 dismantling at Tampa Bay Times Forum. The good news for the Panthers is they go into Sunday leading the division for the ninth straight day and their lead remains three points over Washington after the Capitals lost for the second straight night as well.

Florida got only one of four available points in the weekend series against Tampa Bay after losing 2-1 in overtime on Friday. The Panthers have lost their past three to the Lightning after winning four of six last year.

“We have lots of excuses but we just got outplayed,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “The score shows how the game played out. .-.-. These were four point games.''
The last time Florida played here, the power play scored a franchise-tying five goals. On Saturday, the Panthers had plenty of chances with an advantage but had just piddling chances as they struggled to keep the puck in the Lightning zone. 

Marty St. Louis scored the opening goal after Brett Clark's initial shot bounced off of goalie Jacob Markstrom's pad; Brett Connolly quickly passed the loose puck to St. Louis who easily knocked it through. The Panthers then had two power play chances before the first ended but failed to get anything past Mathieu Garon. 

The Panthers had three power play chances in the second as the Lightning opened things up with three goals on seven shots to open the period. Florida got shutout on all of them. The power play, ranked ninth in the league coming in, was 0-for-6 on Saturday and has one goal in the past 19 chances. In Florida's past eight games, it has just three power play goals.

Juice“We have to put it behind us but learn from it as well,'' Stephen Weiss said. “We had no juice, no Toastjam. We got beat to every puck. We didn't generate much.''

Markstrom, making his first start since losing to Chicago in a Nov. 3 shootout, was pelted by the Lightning in the second. Tyler Pyatt got his first of the season making it 2-0 early in the second after picking off a loose puck and sweeping past rookie Erik Gudbranson. Ed Jovanovski went down on the ice to try and play blocker, but Pyatt threw the puck high over Markstrom's shoulder. 

Less than three minutes later, Teddy Purcell made it 3-0 by throwing up a prayer while sliding backward, OJthe awkward shot clipping Steven Stamkos – who scored Friday's overtime winner – and finding its way past Markstrom. Ryan Malone essentially ended it with 9:25 left in the second when he scored his fifth of the year. 

Florida finally scored late when Shawn Matthias knocked in a rebound from Jack Skille, but moments later, Stamkos got another one to pad the large lead with less than a minute left. 

“The power play was a pretty good example of our overall game,'' Dineen said. “We didn't have much jump out there.''


Dineen put three of his AHL call-ups on the same line Saturday as he wants to see which of those players remain with the Panthers after some of Florida's forwards start making it back to the lineup. Dineen called the trio of Evgenii Dadonov, Tim Kennedy and Michal Repik the 'San Antonio Express' line and added they would “bring a bucketload of energy.''

He was pleased with their effort afterward.

“I thought those guys played pretty well,'' Dineen said. “There was a mistake on the second goal and it ended up in our net. But otherwise, they brought a lot of energy.''

() Tomas Kopecky was back in the lineup after missing Friday's game with back spasms. Keaton Ellerby was the healthy scratch on Saturday. 

() Dineen said he thinks Scott Clemmensen will participate in Monday's practice in Coral Springs and should travel with the team on its three-game trip that goes from North Carolina to Los Angeles and San Jose, Calif. Clemmensen has been out with what is thought to be a groin injury since shutting out Dallas 6-0 in his only start of the season on Nov. 15. 

November 25, 2011

Panthers Winning Ways End as Lightning win 2-1 in OT ... Cats Haven't Won Four Straight Since Jacques Martin Coached ... Tomas Kopecky Misses Game, Could Return Saturday

VersteegDale Tallon stood in the corner of the elevator muttering unprintable words under his breath. Tomas Fleischmann said there was disappointment because the Panthers “are used to winning.'' Kris Versteeg adding “we're a little ticked off.''

The Panthers lost to the visiting Lightning on Friday, but mind you, it was a 2-1 overtime defeat in which Florida picked up a point to extend its lead over Washington atop the Southeast Division.

Even though the Panthers took seven of an available eight points in a four-game homestand, no one was looking at the big picture. They were upset the winning run came to an end.

In past years, the Panthers may have staged a parade around the Sawgrass Mills Mall after such a successful stand at home.

“We didn't play our best game, we looked a little tired,'' said Fleischmann, who scored Florida's lone goal in the second period. “No excuses. We have to find a way to win in the third. We didn't.''

The Panthers try to get back on the winning end Saturday as they get a rematch against the Lightning in Tampa. The Lightning have won two straight against Florida, getting both wins after coming back from third period deficits and winning in overtime.

That's two points the Panthers have handed over to their rivals from Hillsborough County.

“We had enough chances to win and they came back on us again. We have to fix that for the next one,'' Versteeg said, noting that Tampa Bay moved within six points of the first-place Panthers after losing four of its past five. “We have a goal going into the third and we have to hold that. We've given up too many points this year.''

Before Friday's game, coach Kevin Dineen admitted he would like some more “comfy” games as his team has played close to the final horn for much of the past few weeks. Friday's game was Florida's eighth straight one-goal game at home; the Panthers had won the previous three but are now 3-5 in those games.

After a nap-inducing opening period in which Florida looked slow against Tampa Bay's 1-3-1 trap, Florida opened things up in the second. The Panthers, who had just two shots 13 minutes into the first, took a 1-0 lead when Fleischmann got his 10th of the season after knocking a Stephen Weiss pass past Mathieu Garon.

Garon had been pulled in his previous visit to Sunrise after giving up three in the opening period but was solid Friday, stopping 23 shots to get the win. Florida had plenty of opportunities to pad its slim lead but failed to do so, with Garon getting help from the cage on the Panthers biggest chance in the third.

Midway through, Versteeg clanked a slap shot off the post, the puck careening out of danger. Soon after, Vinny Lecavalier tied it by knocking a loose puck past Jose Theodore (29 saves) at 8:59 of the third.

The Lightning caught a big break in overtime as Dmitry Kulikov was called for interfering with Lecavalier in the offensive zone. The Lightning had a 4-on-3 advantage for two minutes, and despite some great clears by Mike Weaver and others, the Panthers couldn't kill it off. With 19 seconds left in the power play, Steven Stamkos ripped one from the circle to win it.

Florida still can't get past a three-game winning streak as the Panthers haven't won four straight since Jacques Martin coached the team in March 2008.

“We had opportunities and the game certainly the pace our team has played for the majority of our games,'' Dineen said. “Unfortunately we didn't end up on the top of it. It was a disappointing loss. They had two full minutes and that's hard to kill. They had a lot of talented players on the ice. But it looked like we were going to get out of it. They had the right guy at the end.''


The Panthers had another starter out of the lineup on Friday as winger Tomas Kopecky missed the game with back spasms. Kopecky participated in the morning skate on a line with Tim Kennedy and Marco Sturm but didn't warm up before the game.

With four forwards out, the Panthers went with seven defensemen as Versteeg and Weiss handled a lot of double-shift duties. Assistant general manager Mike Santos said the Panthers could call up another forward from AHL San Antonio but wouldn't make that decision until late Friday night.

Kopecky said he felt OK but would be a “game-time decision'' Saturday in Tampa.

() The NHL suspended New York Rangers forward Andre Deveaux for three games after he threw an elbow at Fleischmann during Wednesday's game. Fleischmann left the game after hitting the ice but returned by the end of the second period and started Friday. Deveaux will forfeit $8,513.52 with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.


When, Where: 7 p.m.; Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa

TV/Radio: FSN; WQAM-560

The series: Panthers lead 55-36-10

The game: This is the fifth of six meetings between the two this season as they play for the second time in as many nights. The series is even through four after the Lightning came back from a 1-0 third period deficit to beat the Panthers 2-1 in overtime on Friday in Sunrise. Florida is expected to start rookie Jacob Markstrom in net, his first start since losing to the Blackhawks in a shootout Nov. 3. Markstrom was sent to the minors on Nov. 7 and recalled on Nov. 20 as Scott Clemmensen has been on the shelf. The Lightning are expected to start Dwayne Roloson.

Black Cat Friday in Sunrise: Florida Panthers-Lightning Pregame Notes

RidgemontmallGood afternoon from the center of the South Florida Shopping Universe. 

Yes, Sunrise. Home of the Sawgrass Mills Mall and a TJ Maxx. 

And an Applebees.

BlackfridayWe have everything here. 

Tonight the Panthers play host to the Lightning in what is the final game of a four-game homestand. The Panthers have a long roadie coming up.

Florida visits Tampa tomorrow then comes home for a day before flying to North Carolina for a date with the NHL Hurricanes. Florida will then fly all night to Los Angeles before playing at San Jose. The Panthers come home for one game before heading right back out.

Don't know who came up with this schedule, but I hope they get nothing but Aqua Velva for Christmas.

Anyway, here's what we got today:

-- Coach Kevin Dineen won't say it, but Jose Theodore starts tonight for the Cats. Tampa Bay is throwing Mathieu Garon out there.

BluesbrosmallYou might remember that Garon gave up those three first period goals to the Panthers a few weeks back before Dwayne Roloson came in and shut Florida down as the Lightning roared back and won 4-3 in a shootout. 

-- Tomas Fleischmann was out on ice with the top line today and was smiling and laughing. He's good.

Speaking of Fleischmann -- This comes from the NHL:

NEW YORK (November 25, 2011) – New York Rangers forward Andre Deveaux has been suspended, without pay, for three games for delivering an illegal check to the head of Florida forward Tomas Fleischmann during NHL Game #307 Wednesday night in Sunrise, MallratFla., the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Deveaux will forfeit $8,513.52. Themoney goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

At 10:59 of the second period, Deveaux delivered a blow withhis elbow to Fleischmann’s head. Fleischmann was injured on the play andtaken to the lockerroom but returned later in the period.

Officials assessed a match penalty to Deveaux under Rule 48.5 for an illegal check tothe head that caused Jackiebrowninjury.

Deveaux will miss games this afternoon at Washington, Nov. 26vs. Philadelphia and Nov. 29 vs. Pittsburgh. He will be eligible to return Dec. 1 at Carolina.

So there you go.

-- Dmitry Kulikov skated today and although he came off the ice pretty early by his standards, he said he was playing tonight.

-- Dineen said Scott Clemmensen still has not been on the ice. Seems like he's getting a little frustrated but Ridgemontratadded he hopes Clemmensen joins the team on the upcoming trip to Carolina and California.

Don't expect Mikael Samuelsson to be on that trip. That's just me guessing, however.


November 24, 2011

More Thanksgiving Fun from WKRP in Cincinnati

WkrpThe full episode of 'Turkeys Away,' one of the great episodes from a great sitcom.



OnFrozenFilm: Happy Thanksgiving from The Florida Panthers

A Thanksgiving Classic from the Panthers.

Hope you enjoy -- and have a great day.

See you all on Friday.


Panthers Look For Scoring from Other Places ... Tomas Fleischmann Seems OK ... Downtown Jason Garrison Bombing Away

LeonlettDuring the Panthers current three game winning streak, scoring has come from the same sources.

Florida's nine goals in wins over Pittsburgh, New Jersey and the Rangers have all been scored by the top line of Kris Versteeg (three), Stephen Weiss (two) and Tomas Fleischmann (two) or defensemen Brian Campbell and Jason Garrison.

Although the Panthers other three lines are playing well and creating lots of chances – Keaton Ellerby, Mike Santorelli, Michal Repik, Tomas Kopecky and Erik Gudbranson all had at least three shots on goal in Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Rangers – Florida sure would like to see others help out in putting some pucks in the net.

“I'm always tweaking things,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “Right now we're at the point where we're very positive on a lot of chances that they're getting. You could always say 'try harder,' but that's not the case here.

Dineen has left the top line alone, but said before Wednesday's game that he contemplated breaking them up just to spread the talent and create more scoring opportunities down the lines.

“That's tempting,'' he said with a sly grin. “We'll see about that.''

Dineen may be forced to breaking that line up anyway as Florida could be without Fleischmann on Friday. Fleischmann was taken out with an elbow to the head administered by New York's Andre Deveaux during the second period on Wednesday. Dineen said Fleischmann was a little groggy but otherwise fine.

Fleischmann returned to finish Friday's game.

Deveaux is expected to be suspended and fined by the league on Friday for the dirty hit that got him ejected.

“He looked OK today,'' Dineen said of Fleischmann. “It took him a little while to regroup but it looks like he'll be fine for the weekend.''


Garrison had a breakthrough season offensively last year, scoring five goals in his second full season after getting two as a rookie. Through Florida's first 21 games this year, Garrison has already eclipsed his season total after getting his eighth goal onWednesday.

Garrison's goals have all come from his booming slap shot from an average of 50 feet out. Brian Campbell has assisted on all eight goals, the puck-mover having no problem feeding Garrison from long range.

“I'm just shooting the puck as much as I can, find the opening,'' Garrison said. “I have to confess, sometimes I just close my eyes and hit it as hard as I can. Fortunately they're going in for me right now.''

-- Scott Clemmensen hasn't practiced with the team since last week as he recovers from what's believed to be a sore groin.

With Clemmensen out, expect to see Jacob Markstrom this weekend in one of the back-to-back games against the Lightning. Jose Theodore has given up just six goals in his past three starts.

“I like riding the same pony but I don't want to run [Theodore] into the ground,'' Dineen said.

-- The Panthers had a brief meeting Thursday before taking the rest of the day off to enjoy the holiday.

Dineen took his family to the west coast to see friends.

“It's my first trip down Alligator Alley,'' Dineen said with a hint of excitement.

-- Florida goes into Friday's game atop the Southeast Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference. Last year, seven of the eight teams which held a playoff position at Thanksgiving made it to the postseason.

Atlanta, which held the eighth seed last year, is the only team that didn't make it. The Thrashers were coached by Florida assistant Craig Ramsay.

The Panthers hold the NHL record for postseason drought by not making the playoffs since 2000.

“As coaches, you're always looking for something to keep you sharp,'' Dineen said. “I know Ramsay has very good insight on being with a team that got off to a hot start and wasn't able to sustain it. He's a real valuable guy for me in many ways, but this is another example of something he can help us with.''


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise

TV/Radio: FSN; WQAM-560

The series: Panthers lead 55-36-10

The game: The last time the Lightning came to town, it fell behind 3-0 in the opening period only to storm back and beat the Panthers 4-3 in overtime. Florida has won two of the first three in the season series and six of nine dating to last season. The Panthers return the favor and play in Tampa on Saturday.

November 23, 2011

Music for Rangers Fans Driving Home from Panthers Game

Panthers Keep On Winning, Drop King Henrik and Rangers 2-1 ... Tomas Fleischmann OK after Dirty Hit ... Marcel Goc Mending; Dmitry Kulikov Sore

TheocelebrateThe Panthers threw everything they had at Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist on Wednesday night.

Only two pucks made it past New York's star netminder as 'King Henrik' was the lone reason the Rangers were in the game.

In years past, one would have expected the Rangers to get that tying goal late. Perhaps even win it.

“We're not that fragile team any more,'' Stephen Weiss said.

No, they're not.

The Panthers held onto yet another late lead and won their third straight by holding off the Rangers 2-1 in front of an announced 17,461 at BankAtlantic Center. The win kept the Panthers atop the Southeast Division for at least another few days.

“We had a great effort, the guys really played strong for the full 60 minutes,'' said Jason Garrison, whose power play bomb from 55 feet out gave Florida a 1-0 lead in the first. The defenseman now has a career-high eight goals.

“This is what we needed. We've put together some good games, but this was a complete one.''

The Panthers have won three straight for the second time this season and are 3-0 in this four-game homestand.

Florida goes for its first four game winning streak since Jacques Martin's final season behind the bench four years ago on Friday when the Lightning come across Alligator Alley for the first of back-to-back games.

Florida is winning despite having a handful of regulars out. In a scary moment Wednesday, Tomas Fleischmann was taken out on a dirty hit from New York's Andre Deveaux. Fleischmann was hit in the head by a high elbow and lay motionless on the ice for a few tense moments. 

Fleischmann returned to the ice in the final minute of the second; Deveaux did not. He was ejected for an intentional shot to head and will face suspension and a fine from the NHL. 

“Every year the league puts out a video on what is and isn't legal,'' coach Kevin Dineen said, avoiding the term 'dirty hit' yet completely spelling out what it was Deveaux did.

“A hit like that would be one example of an incredibly .-.-. there's a guy who hasn't played much in the NHL. You could see it. The refs certainly made the right call. That's the kind of thing when you make a video of what's wrong with the game, that's one of them.''

The Panthers definitely missed Fleischmann on the five minute power play after Deveaux was sent to the locker room as they failed to add to their 2-1 lead.

Not that the Panthers didn't have any chances; Lundqvist (36 saves, second star of the game) was outstanding as he kept Florida's power play off the board. 

The Panthers made it 2-0 just over a minute into the second when Kris Versteeg took a nice pass from Fleischmann and knocked in his team-leading 12th of the year. The Rangers cut into the lead three minutes later when Derek Stepan broke loose and beat Jose Theodore with a wrister from the left circle.

After that it was all goalies as Theodore and Lundqvist battled it out, trading one save after another. In years past, this one likely would have gone the Rangers way.

“Lundqvist is one of the best, if not the best, goalie in the league,'' Versteeg said. “You aren't going to beat him very many times.''


Center Marcel Goc missed a fourth straight game as Dineen said the undisclosed injury had to deal with his head – although wouldn't go as far as saying he had concussion-like symptoms. Goc was involved in a collision Nov. 15 at Dallas and has now missed four games. 

“He was hit in the head so we're in precautionary mode right now,'' Dineen said. “We don't know what the exact injury is. He's making strides. He took a pretty good shot.''

Assistant general manager Mike Santos said he didn't expect Goc to miss too much more time.

-- Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov missed his first game of the season as he has a sore groin. Kulikov said Wednesday that he sat out for precautionary reasons and will return to the ice Friday against the visiting Lightning. 


-- Dineen comes from a hockey family as his father Bill played and coached in the NHL – and was Kevin's coach with the Flyers in the early 1990s.

On Wednesday, Kevin Dineen went against his brother Jerry – the video coach of the Rangers.

“That didn't come from luck,'' Kevin said. “He's a valuable part of that organization.”

Kevin joked about how Jerry's nickname 'Chicken Legs' came from long ago. “It wasn't because he was fleet of foot,'' he said with a laugh.

Kevin Dineen wouldn't divulge any of the derogatory family nicknames he was saddled with. “I'll give you 'Dino','' he joked. 

Kevin and Bill Dineen weren't the only family members to make the bigs as brothers Gord and Peter also played in the NHL. Shawn and Jerry Dineen played in the minors. 

-- Dineen said the thought of putting goalie Jacob Markstrom in against the Rangers' Lundqvist was intriguing. “Swede versus Swede,'' he said.

Theodore, however, made his fourth straight start. “It makes for a tough decision as a coach,'' Dineen said. 

Les-- The Panthers will have a brief meeting on Thursday and then take the rest of Thanksgiving off.

Happy Thanksgiving y'all.



November 22, 2011

Stephen Weiss: No Names, Please ... Panthers Having Fun, Have Strip Shootout ... Rangers in Town Wednesday

WeissWhen asked what nickname he would to see given to the Florida Panthers front line, Stephen Weiss – as expected – shrugged. 

“No thanks. I don't want one,'' Weiss said. “We just want to keep flying under the radar.''

Yeah, good luck with that. 

Weiss and linemates Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg are off to a red-hot start and have helped fuel the Panthers into a first place start 20 games into the season. 

The Panthers top line has had a hand in each of the Panthers seven goals in rousing victories over Pittsburgh and New Jersey.

On  Monday, the Panthers got two of their four goals from Versteeg and the other ones from Weiss and Fleischmann as Florida rallied to beat the Devils 4-3.

“It's been a good stretch,'' Weiss said, “but we're not starting any parties either. We have a lot of work to do as a team and a line to keep this going. We talk about how we need to produce every night, or at least create chances. They're not going to go in every night, but if you are creating things, you increase your chances. They're going in right now, but that won't always be the case.''

At Tuesday's practice, coach Kevin Dineen switched up the Panthers other lines, moving players like Evgenii Dadonov and Tomas Kopecky. There is no moving what has become an untouchable top line. And why would he? The Weiss-Versteeg-Fleischmann line has played together since the first game of the season, one in which Weiss scored Florida's initial goal. 

Don't expect them to move around anytime soon. 

Of Florida's 59 goals, the top line has 28 – or 47 percent. All three players are ranked in the top 20 in the league in scoring and are the highest-scoring line in the entire NHL. Florida is one of just three teams (San Jose, Chicago) with three players among the league's top 30 individual scoring. 

“It's definitely a team effort and we've only played Versteegtogether 20 games. There's still a learning curve there,'' said Versteeg, who went into Tuesday ranked third in the league in scoring with 25 points. “We just out there and have fun playing the game. We don't expect to be front-runners for anything, don't look at the stats. The main thing here is we want to win and want to do it for guys like Weiss who has never done it before.''

The success of the top line equals that to the success of the entire team. The Panthers are off to their best start since 1999, coincidentally the last time the franchise advanced to the Stanley Cup playoffs. 
Dineen is pushing the right buttons while toeing a fine line between complacency and keeping a team loose. 

Tuesday's practice ended with a play on the end of the classic hockey movie Slap Shot. With the team holding a closed practice at BankAtlantic Center, Dineen held a special shootout contest. Those players who scored were done for the day; those who didn't had to go back in line and remove a piece of clothing or equipment. 

MatthiasstripwatermarkBy the time he was done, Shawn Matthias had lost his gloves, jersey and shorts before scoring on Jacob Markstrom. When told the photo of him shooting in limited gear was already circulating on Twitter, Matthias couldn't wait to see it.

Yes, winning brings about a different attitude. 

“We have a fun group of guys, our coaching staff is fun,'' Matthias said. “We're all just happy to come to the rink. Everyone is close here, we all hang out. It's a close-knit group. Look at us on the bench [Monday] night. We were jumping up and down, hugging just like the fans. It's never been like that here. It's unbelievable.''

-- The NHL said on Tuesday that Matthias wouldn't be fined or suspended for his hit on New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov. Volchenkov took 12 stitches to his mouth and also cut his forehead when his helmet hit the ice.

“I didn't tried to hurt him. You never try that and I hope he's OK,'' Matthias said. “I kept my shoulder down. Maybe because of my size, I may have clipped his face. .-.-. I think it was a clean hit. I asked the ref if it was a clean hit and he said it was.''

-- The first round of All-Star voting has been announced and although the Panthers don't have a player within striking distance of a starting spot, the team is faring better than in past years. 

Defenseman Brian Campbell has registered 24,513 voters on NHL.com (Ottawa's Erik Karlsson leads the position with 147,468 votes) and Ed Jovanovski has 6,750. Tomas Fleischmann has 9,308 votes (Daniel Alfredsson has 131,774); Versteeg (5,718) and Weiss (2,928) are write-in candidates.


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BankAtlantic Center

TV/Radio: FSN; WQAM-560

The series: Rangers lead 39-28-6

The game: The Rangers seven-game winning streak Mollssidended with a 4-0 loss to Montreal on Saturday; the Rangers haven't played since. The loss to the Canadiens was New York's first regulation loss since Oct. 27. .-.-. Expect the Rangers to bring back Henrik Lundqvist on Wednesday. Lundqvist is 7-3-3 this season and 12-6-1 lifetime against the Panthers. 

November 21, 2011

Florida Panthers Rally from 3-0 Deficit for just Second Time EVER, Beat Devils 4-3 ... Sawgrass Express Line Scores all Four, Versteeg with Two

WeissIf Pete DeBoer wasn't sold on the new-look Panthers before Monday, he has to be now.

This sure isn't the bunch he used to coach here. 

Not only did the Panthers rally from an early three-goal deficit to upend DeBoer's Devils 4-3, they did so with opportunistic goals and a staunch penalty kill. 

In years past, the Panthers would have crawled into a hole down 3-0 in the opening period. This team put up a fight and got perhaps their most satisfying win of the season at BankAtlantic Center. 

The comeback was historic as well as it was just the second time in history the Panthers won a game once down 3-0. DeBoer was coaching the Panthers the other time it happened against Toronto in 2009. 

“These guys don't quit,'' said general manager Dale Tallon, who fired DeBoer the day after last season ended and then remade the Panthers roster over the summer. “They are starting to believe in themselves. With four starters out of the lineup, I'm really impressed with these guys. We have more weapons than we've had in the past, but this was a special win.'' 

The Devils jumped all over the Panthers, getting three goals within a span of under four minutes in the opening period. 

The Panthers went into their locker room during the first break and decided they weren't going out like that.

“We decided it could go one of two ways either we get spanked or fight our way back into it,'' said Stephen Weiss, whose shorthanded goal in the third tied the score at 3. “We're not going to quit. We weren't happy with the way we played in the first but that doesn't mean it was over. We pulled up our pants and changed things around.''

Florida got a pair of goals from Kris Versteeg in the second to go into the second break down just one against Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur. In the third, Florida had a bunch of great chances snuffed out by Brodeur and should have been in a lot of hot water midway through when Tomas Fleischmann and Jack Skille went to the box.

Skating down a man at 4-on-3, Mike Weaver blocked a shot deep in his end and got it out to Jason Garrison who spotted Weiss streaking up the ice. Garrison slid a nice pass through the zone and Weiss charged in on Brodeur, roofing a shot to tie it up.

The Panthers penalty kill then went to work – Weiss stayed in – and killed off an extended penalty.

Fleischmann ended up winning the game with 2:03 left

Tallon dedicated the win to his father Stan; Monday was the third anniversary of his passing. 

“This one is for my dad,'' Tallon said, looking at the ground. “Someone was looking out for us up there and I know it was him. I was praying to him during the penalty kill that's for sure.''


Backup goalie Scott Clemmensen missed his second game on Monday with what is thought to be groin issues. Dineen and Clemmensen say the injury isn't serious and he should be back soon. Rookie Jacob Markstrom backed up Theodore for the second straight night.

“My start this season has been stop-and-go and that's been a little frustrating at times,'' Clemmensen said. “I'm very close to coming back again. I want more go in my year, start going and keep on going. I got to get started.''

-- Dineen said Marcel Goc's undisclosed upper body injury, which has already cost him three games, will cost him at least a fourth as will not play Wednesday either. 

-- Mikael Samuelsson has yet to play for the Panthers despite being acquired on Oct. 22 in the David Booth trade. Samuelsson, who is having complications from a sports hernia surgery last May, says the road back to the ice is slow but he hopes to be back practicing with the team next week.

“We're taking it really slow but I need that time,'' said Samuelsson, who has been skating on his own the past week. “I had a setback and now I'm using my left side which I hadn't in the past. We're getting there. Give me one more week.''