March 03, 2015

GOALIE MERRY-GO-ROUND: Roberto Luongo, Al Montoya hurt as Maple Leafs snap long road slide with 3-2 win ... Goalie coach Robb Tallas dresses but Luongo returns

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Panthers went from starting their All-Star, future Hall of Fame goalie Tuesday to going with their backup.
They almost ended up putting in the guy selling Molsons in Section 132.
OK, things weren't that bad although Florida was forced to suit up goalie coach Robb Tallas -- who hasn't played an NHL game since 2001 -- in a deflating 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs.
"We had communication with the league and had to get Robb legal to go in,'' general manager Dale Tallon said. "It's rare, this doesn't happen very often."
Tallas, who never went in as Roberto Luongo returned after a first period injury, was approved by the NHL to be Florida's emergency backup after Luongo hurt a shoulder in the first period and Al Montoya appeared to pull a groin muscle early in the third.
Montoya returned to the game after a lengthy delay early in the third period as Florida and league officials tried to work through the mess and figure out who was eigible and who was not.
Montoya was obviously hurt and gave up the game-winning goal to Peter Holland with 14:32 left.
With Tallas in the tunnel and in uniform, Luongo -- who had appeared in his dress clothes -- talked coach Gerrard Gallant into going back in.
While Montoya killed time best he could, Luongo got suited up and returned to the game with 9:08 left.
Toronto didn't score again -- but neither did the Panthers.
Florida remains two points back of Boston for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with the Bruins playing two fewer games.
Toronto had lost 16 straight road games -- dating to New Year's Eve -- before topping the Panthers.
"We were really concerned, playing a good game and lose both goalies boom, boom,'' Gallant said. "There was a lot of confusion going on.''
Montoya returned to the game in obvious pain and was lauded by management and teammates alike for returning.
Gallant said Montoya was "hurting pretty good" and Tallon confirmed Florida would recall a goalie from its minor league affiliate -- likely former NHLer Dan Ellis -- immediately.
"We have to bring a goalie up,'' Tallon said. "We'll see what happens after the medical report.''
Aside from Florida's goalie issues, its scoring issues popped up again as Jonathan Bernier slammed the door in the third.
The Panthers led 1-0 on a Brandon Pirri goal early with Aaron Ekblad making it 2-1 in the second.
Montoya was hurt trying to stop Nazem Kadri on his game-tying goal 22 seconds into the third forcing the Panthers to scramble and try and find an emergency goalie.
Both Scottie Upshall and Derek MacKenzie were considered, with MacKenzie going as far as to head back to the locker room to change.
Tallon, meanwhile, was working with the league to get Tallas approved to play. Tallas served as an emergency backup during warmups and the first period of a game against Carolina when Jacob Markstrom's equipment was late to arrive.
Tallas, Luongo and Montoya were unavailable for comment.
"We have to be mentally strong, try and keep pucks away from them,'' Pirri said. "We're not even close to being happy about what happened. We want that playoff spot.''

Tallas photo from 2013 warmups v Carolina courtesy of Eliot J. Schecther/Getty Images

 

SCOTTIE UPSHALL: Glad to be with the Florida Panthers


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Scottie Upshall walked up to a local reporter in the Panthers locker room Tuesday morning and held out a hand.
"It's good to see you today,'' Upshall said with a smile.
With the trade deadline Monday at 3, Upshall wasn't sure he'd be with the Panthers come Tuesday.
"It's nice to be here this morning,'' he said.
Although he knew he was one of the players being shopped around by the Panthers, Upshall said he didn't particularly pay much attention to the trade talk on Monday.
With family in town, he took them to the beach.
A day off in Fort Lauderdale? Why not.
"Deadline day in pro sports is where a lot of action happens,'' Upshall said. "It's nice to have it over with. You never like to see your friends go, and as much action that went on [Monday], it's good to see [Tallon] believes the group here can get the job done. We want to make the playoffs and do good things in the playoffs.
"We feel we're right there. With 19 games left, this is an opportunity for the guys here to do what we believed we could do from the start of the season. We want to turn some heads and prove we can get the job done. We're close and the push here in the next month is when hockey gets really tough. We like where we are.''

 

PETER HORACHEK: Staying positive despite the losses

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Peter Horachek is as positive a person one would ever meet.
It's a character trait that has done him well, especially with all of the negativity -- and flat out losing -- surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs these days.
"I don't think there's any other way to go about it,'' Horachek said after Tuesday's morning skate in Sunrise.
"It doesn't help anyone if you get overly negative on the team right now. We're very clear when we make mistakes, clear with how we need to play.''
Horachek has been in this type of situation before, and not too long ago, either.
As the interim coach of the Panthers last year, Horachek took over a rough situation (Florida had lost seven straight when it fired Kevin Dineen) and tried to make things better.
As was the case in Florida, the Maple Leafs were sellers going into the trade deadline.
He'll work with what he has, he says, trying to make things better.
"There are challenges, we traded away six guys'' he said. "If I look like I'm not motivated and into it, neither will they.''
Toronto has 19 games left this season and his message is his players have a chance to show a little pride, prove themselves accountable.
And, in the process, maybe spoil some playoff dreams of some other teams.
Although the Leafs have lost 16 straight road games -- dating to a New Year's Eve win in Boston -- they sure could screw up the Panthers with a win tonight in Sunrise.
"This is a good opportunity for everyone to show what kind of person they are, what they're made of,'' Horachek said.

 

 

PHIL KESSEL: Leave Dion Phaneuf alone


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Those who thought the Toronto Maple Leafs may go quietly into the good night after the trading deadline passed were in for a little surprise Tuesday.
Phil Kessel, he of many trade rumors himself, stood in front of Dion Phaneuf's locker stall in the visitor's room at BB&T Center after Tuesday's morning skate.
After being asked a few questions about still being around -- he said he didn't assume he was going anywhere -- Kessel tore into the Toronto media for its perceived poor treatment of Phaneuf.
Kessel, it should be noted, was not asked about Phaneuf.
"I think the way the media treats Dion Phaneuf in this city is embarrassing,'' Kessel said, referring to Toronto and not, we think, Sunrise.
"A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves. I’m embarrassed for them. I don’t think anyone deserves to be treated like that and a lot of media should be embarrassed about what they said about him in general.
"It’s disgusting the way people treat him. You guys unfairly criticize him. He’s our best defenceman and you guys act like he’s not trying out there and this and that. Is it his fault we’re losing? No. Did he build this team? No. It’s not Dion Phaneuf.''
Rumors swirled this weekend and into Monday that Phaneuf and his large contract might be on the move to Detroit. That didn't happen.
Phaneuf didn't speak to the gathered media despite being requested. The players who were in the room seemed surprised by Kessel's rant as they all stopped what they were doing to listen in.
A few of them did so with raised eyebrows and some chuckled under their breath.
"The stuff he takes, the crap he takes, the things people say, I’m just tired of it,'' Kessel continued. "He’s owed some apologies by some people.''
TSN ended up apologizing to Toronto's Jeffrey Lupul for a tweet it ran during Monday's trade deadline show. The tweet, from the general public, talked about personal issues and seemingly slipped through the filtering process.
After the derogatory tweet got through, TSN stopped running live tweets on its show.
Lupul also didn't speak Tuesday. He did go to Twitter however, writing "get familiar with #nocomment."

 

WILLIE MITCHELL: We haven't done anything, but don't disrespect the Florida Panthers


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Panthers captain Willie Mitchell said he heard Sportsnet analyst Glenn Healy disrespecting the Panthers during SN's trade day coverage Monday and decided he couldn't let it sit.
Mitchell sent out a tweet directed at Healy that got plenty of play as it spiced up a fairly lame trading deadline.
When SN saw the tweet, it wasn't ignored and was brought up during a roundtable discussion.
Former Panthers coach -- and part-time South Florida resident -- Doug MacLean jokingly stuck up for his former team as he is never one to turn down a chance to rib Healy.
On Tuesday, Mitchell explained why he came out in defense of his team through social media.
"We're not satisfied with what we've accomplished by no means,'' Mitchell said. "We have one goal and that's to make the postseason and we've said that from the beginning of the season. We've worked our tails off. Ownership has given us a chance. I just thought it was uncalled for from the outside to discredit what we've done to this point.
"Again, we haven't accomplished anything, but, we were a last place team in the league and we're fighting with a team that won the Stanley Cup not that long ago. I thought it was uncalled for. We talk about the positive things in the Florida market. We're playing better, we're in every game. We try to do things the right way. I think people are seeing that.''
Mitchell added that there's a challenge of playing in a non-traditional market especially one like South Florida. He says he and his teammates relish the opportunity to get things right here.
"This group really likes that challenge, we embrace that,'' Mitchell said. "Everyone says hockey in Florida doesn't work, the Florida Panthers have never been a team to contend with. We have a lot of work to do to [disprove] that to our peers. The most important thing is when teams around the league know its not a lay-up in Florida. I know in playing against them last year, we're a different hockey club.''
Mitchell, who has been on the injured list for the past few weeks, says he was aiming to play Tuesday against the Leafs but is now hoping for Thursday.
"Some injuries [hang] around and this one has,'' he said. "I feel good, should be in the next game. I was trying to vouch for this one but the medical staff are pulling back the reigns a bit. You should see me in the next one.''
Dave Bolland, also on the IR, didn't skate Tuesday as coach Gerard Gallant says he was fighting the flu.

 

March 02, 2015

ALL'S QUIET IN SUNRISE: Panthers stand pat on trade deadline day but make news on Twitter


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The most exciting part of Monday's trade deadline for the Panthers was captain Willie Mitchell taking exception to a comment by a Canadian television analyst and responding to it on Twitter.
Yeah, it was a slow news day.
With general manager Dale Tallon making three trades last week -- including one for future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr -- there wasn't much to do come Monday.
Tallon was believed to be shopping pending free agents Tomas Kopecky and Scottie Upshall but by 3 p.m., Florida didn't make any deals.
"We did most of our work early as did most teams. There wasn't a lot going on,'' Tallon said.
"Teams had done their trades over the past few weeks. We looked at possibilities with other teams and other players, but we knew this was going to be a quiet day. We wanted to help our offense but it's hard to do that.''
Florida's four pending free agents had been on the market all season with Tallon dealing away Sean Bergenheim last Tuesday and Tomas Fleischmann on Saturday.
Although Kopecky and Upshall may not be in the future plans of the Panthers, they are part of their immediate future and can help Florida in its quest for a playoff spot.
Upshall's goal Saturday broke a 3-3 tie in an eventual 5-3 win over the Sabres; Kopecky was back in the lineup on Sunday and had two key scoring chances against the Lightning.
"We're in the hunt, two points out,'' Tallon said. "Team morale is very high, we have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Team chemistry is important and you don't want to disrupt that.''
So now, the Panthers move forward.
With 19 games remaining, coach Gerard Gallant knows who is on his team moving forward.
The Panthers currently have 21 players on the roster so they have room when Mitchell and center Dave Bolland return from injury.
"Tuesday will be a good day for us because we can move on, we know what our team is for the final games,'' Gallant said over the weekend. "It's tough for the guys who are involved in that, but they are pros and know this is part of the business. It will sort itself out.''
Said Upshall: "We know we have 15, 16 forwards and decisions need to be made. As a pro, you just do your job, come to play. We all want to be on this team, make the playoffs here.''
As for Mitchell, he didn't like snide remarks made toward the Panthers by Sportsnet commentator Glenn Healy including one comment in which he referred to Florida as the "mighty Panthers."
That led Mitchell to send a tweet toward Healy poking fun at his 14-year career as an NHL goalie -- as well as making an unprintable suggestion.
Mitchell's tweet caught the attention of the Sportsnet crew with former Panthers coach Doug MacLean defending Mitchell and his former team while good-naturedly ribbing Healy.


Roberto Luongo, himself a master of Twitter, jumped into the fray as well, posting a picture of a crying Terrell Owens with the line "that's my captain!"

Again, it was a slow day.
"God bless Willie,'' Tallon said with a chuckle. "He's a great captain and he's a Panther. We have a good group who really care for each other and believe in themselves, believe in our team. It's all good.''
-- Tallon said Mitchell is close to returning from his undisclosed upper body injury. Bolland is expected to join the Panthers for Tuesday's morning skate.
-- Former Panthers captain Olli Jokinen won't return to Sunrise on Tuesday as Toronto traded him to St. Louis for a sixth round draft pick.
Jokinen made his Toronto debut after being traded there from Nashville against the Panthers on Feb. 17.
Tuesday: Maple Leafs at Panthers
When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSFL; WQAM 560
Series: Toronto leads 33-29-7
Noteworthy: The Leafs have been bad but especially so away from Toronto as they have lost 16 straight road games. Toronto hasn't won on the road since winning at Boston on New Year's Eve.

 

 

 

 


March 01, 2015

ROLLING RIGHT ALONG: Panthers snap home losing skid v Lightning, hold on for wild 4-3 win ... Jagr gets goal, assist as Panthers have nine goals in past two wins

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Panthers appear to have found their offense.
It couldn't have come at a better time.
On Sunday, Florida newcomer Jaromir Jagr led a balanced attack as the Panthers scored three unanswered goals then held on for dear life to beat Tampa Bay 4-3 at BB&T Center.
The Panthers hadn't beaten the Lightning in Sunrise since their 2011-12 season opener.
That victory kicked off Florida's previous playoff season; the Panthers hope Sunday's victory over Tampa Bay precludes another postseason berth.
Florida is back to being two points back of the final playoff spot.
"This could really be one of those games you look back on,'' defenseman Brian Campbell said.
"They play very well and we knew that. We know the level we have to play at to be consistent and to be good. We have Toronto and Dallas coming up. We need to keep piling them up. We have 19 games left. We know how many wins, how many points we need to get into the playoffs. We need to keep climbing.''
Before Jagr arrived in South Florida, the Panthers offensive had slowed to a crawl, scoring just 11 goals in the previous nine games.
Since Jagr popped into the lineup Saturday against Buffalo, the Panthers have nine goals.
Coincidence?
Probably not.


Sunday, Jagr scored Florida's first goal after being fed in the slot by Jonathan Huberdeau and beating Ben Bishop top shelf.
In the second, tied at 1, Jagr fired a hard shot at Bishop with the puck lingering dangerously around the goal line. Sasha Barkov cleaned it up and Florida had a lead it would not relinquish.
Jagr hadn't scored a goal in 10 games before Sunday.
"It's only been two games but its a big two games and we're back in the race,'' said Jagr, who received the West Point victory jacket after tying Hall of Famer Phil Esposito for fifth all-time on the NHL goals list with 717.
"I came here to try to help this team get into the playoffs and these games are like the playoffs. We have 19 games left, it's exciting.''
Up 2-1, the Panthers kept coming at the Lightning and went into the second intermission up two when Brad Boyes scored a wacky goal by throwing a shot at Bishop from behind the goal cage.
In the third, Florida made it 4-1 on a power play blast from rookie Aaron Ekblad.
Tampa Bay, the NHL's highest-scoring team, didn't sit back and made it a game as Steven Stamkos scored midway through the third before Tyler Johnson made it a one-goal game with 2:44 left.
Backup goalie Al Montoya and Florida's defense stood up, however, and kept the Lightning at bay. The Panthers, who had lost four straight, have victories in consecutive days for the first time this season.
"The guys are going hard to the net,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. "We played a real good game against a real good team. They put the press on us late and got some goals. We held on, found a way to get two big points.''
TRADE DAY
After already trading away Sean Bergenheim and Tomas Fleischmann, the Panthers aren't expected to be too busy before Monday's 3 p.m. trade deadline.
Tomas Kopecky and Scottie Upshall are being shopped by the Panthers but could remain after the deadline.
Kopecky was in the lineup Sunday after being scratched in the previous three games. Upshall scored the game-winner in Saturday's 5-3 win over the Sabres.
Both players will be free agents on July 1.
"Those are all just rumors, I just want to focus on my shifts,'' said Kopecky, who like Upshall served as an assistant captain Sunday.
"I can control what I can control and that's my work ethic.''
-- Boyes scored his 200th career goal Sunday. He had gone 17 games between goals.
"It's been a while since I've chipped in,'' Boyes said. "It was nice. We need goals.''
-- Campbell played in his 900th NHL game in Saturday's win over the Sabres -- the team which drafted him and he spent eight seasons with.

 

February 28, 2015

JAGR TIME: Jaromir Jagr doesn't land on scoresheet but makes presence known in Florida's 5-3 win ... Brandon Pirri comes off IR, scores twice

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Jaromir Jagr came to the Panthers with the thought he would help their much maligned offense.
And even though the future Hall of Famer didn't find the scoresheet Saturday, Jagr certainly had an effect as Florida recorded its fifth biggest output of the season in a 5-3 win over visiting Buffalo to snap a four-game losing streak.
"He was outstanding,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. "He makes your team a lot better, gives your team a a lot of confidence.''
Jagr made his Florida debut Saturday afternoon just hours after he arrived at BB&T Center and headed to the home locker room for the first time.
The 43-year-old winger -- who shares a line with 19-year-old center Sasha Barkov as well as 21-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau -- ended up playing 21 shifts (17:09) with three shots on goal.
He'll get another chance to snap his eight game scoreless streak when Florida plays host to Tampa Bay on Sunday at 5.
"It was crazy for me since they told me about [the trade] at 4 on Thursday so I didn't have much time to pack up and get down here,'' Jagr said in a introductory postgame press conference.
"It's tough to just go to the game without any practice or preparation. We need every point we can get but this was new for me, not practicing and just jumping in.''
Not only was Jagr on the ice for both of Brandon Pirri's goals, but Pirri -- who was activated off the injured list before the game -- credited Jagr for getting him to take the shot in the first place.
Pirri's goals came just over a minute apart and tied the score at 2 past the midway point of the second period.
"He told me to shoot the puck, said 'you got it','' Pirri said. "I knew I had to be the shooter there, [Brian Campbell] put it in my wheelhouse and I teed off on it.''
Buffalo, the worst team in the NHL, jumped to a two-goal lead on the Panthers even when it looked like it didn't want to.
The Sabres, a team in tank mode as it hopes to hold the top pick in the NHL draft when it's held in Sunrise come June, was held to just 14 shots on goal yet found a way to get three past Roberto Luongo.
Buffalo's final goal tied the score at 3 with 7:06 remaining; the Sabres were being outshot 40-13 at the time.
Yet just when it looked like the Panthers would go to overtime despite thoroughly outplaying an opponent, Scottie Upshall came to the rescue.
Upshall, whom the Panthers have been trying to trade before Monday's deadline, took a feed from Derek MacKenzie in the slot and fired a wrister past Michal Neuvirth (42 saves) with six minutes left.
Buffalo didn't make much noise after that as MacKenzie put the Sabres out of their misery with an empty net goal in the final seconds.
"It felt great, nice to chip in and get on the board again,'' Upshall said. "It was nice to start a big weekend here with a win.''
Said Gallant: "It was tough seeing it tied 3-3. Fortunately for us, it's good to see your so-called fourth line get a goal for us.''
Florida at least kept pace with Boston for the final playoff spot. The Bruins opened their lead on the Panthers to four points after beating the Devils in overtime on Friday.
With the Bruins playing host to an Arizona team that hasn't won since Feb. 9 on Saturday evening, the Panthers couldn't afford to lose to the Sabres.
So the postseason hunt continues. Jagr should help things out.
"I'm going to do my best, that's why I'm here,'' Jagr said. "I've played the game so many years, when you add Europe I think it's the most ever, so I have a lot of experience. This makes me a little more excited. This is a new life.''

Sunday: Lightning at Panthers
When, where: 5 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSFL; WQAM 560
Series: Florida leads 57-47-10
Noteworthy: The two cross-state rivals haven't met since the season opener on Oct. 9. The Lightning has won five straight over Florida and the Panthers haven't won in Sunrise since their 2011-12 home opener. Al Montoya starts in goal for Florida.

 

 

FLASH THE DUCK: Fleischmann dealt to Anaheim for Dany Heatley, pick ... Tallon says Heatley will get shot with Panthers if 'proves himself'

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Panthers made another trade before Saturday's game against the Sabres, sending winger Tomas Fleischmann to Anaheim for a future third round pick and former NHL All-Star Dany Heatley.
"We did what we had to do,'' GM Dale Tallon said, "for our case and for Fleischmann. Flash is a real pro, a real good guy. It was all about performance.''
Heatley, who scored four goals in the 2003 All-Star Game in Sunrise while with the Thrashers, has battled injuries the past few years and is currently in the AHL.
The Panthers will keep Heatley in the minors with general manager Dale Tallon saying Heatley will get a chance with Florida if his play picks up in the AHL. In 25 games with Norfolk, Heatley has just two goals and five assists.
Heatley, 34, has played in 869 NHL games with Atlanta, Ottawa, San Jose, Minnesota and Anaheim.
While Heatley has scored close to 400 goals, he's only scored 23 in the past three seasons.
Anaheim signed him to a bargain-basement one-year deal worth $1 million. Florida will pick up about $200,000 of that salary whether he plays in San Antonio or in Sunrise.

Fleischmann was making $4.5 million with the Panthers so the Ducks will pay him about $1 million.
Heatley will join the Rampage in Charlotte, North Carolina.
"I think Dany can go down and give us some offense down the stretch,'' Tallon said. "He has to prove to me that he can do it. He's definitely done it before. He's had some injury-plagued years so it's not easy. But I told him today he'll get a shot with us if he earns that shot. I hope he goes to San Antonio and finds his way.''
As for Fleischmann, rumors had been flying all week that Anaheim wanted to reunite him with former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.
One of Tallon's big signings in the summer of 2011, Fleischmann led Florida in scoring during his first two seasons with the Panthers.
The past two seasons have been a battle for Fleischmann, however. After scoring 39 goals with 96 points in his first two years here, he ended with 15 goals and 49 points in his final two.
Fleischmann left South Florida on Saturday to fly to Anaheim and join his new teammates.
"The performance just wasn't there,'' Tallon said. "He lost his confidence and just needs a fresh start. It's too bad it didn't work out here. He was real good for us, especially the year we made the playoffs. Somewhere along the line it didn't continue.''

 

 

February 27, 2015

WAITING FOR JAGR: Panthers try to end losing skid Saturday as Jaromir Jagr expected to make Florida debut ... Brandon Pirri returns, Willie Mitchell still out

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

For the second straight day, the Panthers went about their business Friday without their newest teammate.
Jaromir Jagr, acquired in a trade with New Jersey on Friday afternoon, is expected to join the team Saturday before Florida plays host to Buffalo at BB&T Center at 3 p.m.
Jagr, the 42-year-old right winger who made his NHL debut three seasons before the Florida Panthers hit the ice for the first time, will likely see plenty of time on one of Florida's top lines and try and help a power play ranked 28th in the league.
"I heard about the trade when I came in [Thursday] and it was just amazing to hear,'' said 19-year-old Sasha Barkov, who could center the future Hall of Famer against the Sabres.
"He was a top player in the league, won two Stanley Cups before I was born. He's one of the great players who can score from anywhere on the ice. It's a good thing for us.''
Already, the team is banking on Jagr's star power to invigorate ticket sales as well as help kickstart a stagnant offense.
Florida was shutout 3-0 by Chicago on Thursday night and hasn't scored more than two goals in a game since putting up three on the reeling Maple Leafs last week in Toronto.
Among teams within six points of a playoff spot, the Panthers have the fewest goals (2.28 per game) and the highest goal differential (minus-27).
Since beating the Ducks 6-2 on Feb. 10, Florida is averaging a meager 1.2 goals per game.
Although Jagr only has 11 goals in 57 games with New Jersey this season, the Panthers hope more top-line minutes as well as more offensive creativity will get him going.
Jagr's 24 goals and 67 points last season would have led the Panthers. This year, his 11 goals would be good for third on the team and his 29 points place him fifth.
"We can find a place for him on roster somewhere, for sure,'' said coach Gerard Gallant, whose final season as an NHL regular was with Tampa Bay during Florida's inaugural season of 1993-94. Gallant faced the young, mullet-sporting Jagr when he was first breaking in with the Penguins.
"We all know what he is. He's an older guy, but he's still a real good hockey player. He brings some credibility to our hockey club and I think he'll be a real good fit with our group. I don't know the guy that well, but I played against him. That tells you how long he's been around.''
For the second straight year, Buffalo gets to be the team Florida's new star breaks out against.
Last year, Roberto Luongo played his first game with the Panthers after being reacquired from Vancouver and shut out the Sabres 2-0 on March 7.
“[Jagr] was by far one of my favorite players I got to watch,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan told reporters in Buffalo on Friday.
“The Florida Panthers are a young team that needs some proper leadership and direction to get them in that next hump. It’s a great move.”
New executive chairman Peter Luukko saw Jagr's influence on young players first hand while president of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Luukko, whose opinion on the deal was sought out by general manager Dale Tallon, said players such as Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux benefited from having Jagr as a teammate.
Jagr's work ethic is so strong the Flyers and other teams he's played for gave him a key to their training facility so he could work out whenever the mood struck him.
The Panthers are banking on Jagr's work acumen rubbing off on their many impressionable youngsters.
"He was an incredible influence in our locker room, especially with our younger players in terms of leading by example,'' Luukko said.
"No one worked harder on our team. .-.-. When Dale called me and mentioned we had a chance to get in on the Jagr deal, I told him he was a first-class, awesome guy. I was 1,000 percent behind this.''
PIRRI RETURNS
Brandon Pirri centered Florida's third line with Vincent Trocheck and Jimmy Hayes on Friday and has been cleared to return to the lineup.
Pirri has been out since injuring a shoulder Feb. 10.
Defenseman Willie Mitchell practiced again Friday but won't play against the Sabres.
"He's still day-to-day,'' Gallant said.
-- Garrett Wilson remained with the team Friday as center Derek MacKenzie didn't practice after blocking a shot during Thursday's game.
"He's fine,'' Gallant said. "He took a maintence day to get some treatment on it, but he's fine for [Saturday].''
Saturday: Sabres at Panthers
When, where: 3 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSFL; WFTL 850
Series: Buffalo leads 45-34-4
Noteworthy: This is the fifth and final meeting of the season with Florida 3-0-1 so far. Roberto Luongo has won six of seven against the Sabres and five straight.


 

 

February 26, 2015

HELP ON THE WAY: Trade for Jaromir Jagr should help scoring-deficient Panthers as Cats lose fourth straight ... Chicago takes control and wins 3-0

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Dale Tallon believes his Panthers are a playoff team and Thursday, he got them some help in their quest by acquiring future Hall of Fame winger Jaromir Jagr.
Hours before Florida lost 3-0 to the visiting Blackhawks at BB&T Center, Tallon swung a deal bringing the 43-year-old Jagr south for a pair of draft picks.
Jagr, the NHL's active leader in just about every category, is expected to be in South Florida on Friday and make his Panthers' debut Saturday against the visiting Sabres.
"We’re committed to winning,'' said Tallon, whose team has lost four straight but remains two points back of the final playoff spot.
"We want to win a championship. We’re putting the pieces together, step by step, and we’re hopeful that Jaromir can lead these young guys to the promised land. It’s a win-win for us."
Thursday's loss put a spotlight on Florida's biggest weakness -- a lack of scoring.
Jagr, obviously, knows a little something about putting the puck in the back of the net.
Jagr broke in with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990 and won a pair of Stanley Cups alongside Mario Lemuiex.
A nine-time All-Star and 15-time 30-goal scorer, Jagr has slowed a bit over the years but should bring the Panthers an added spark on a power play ranked 27th in the league and give them a dangerous scoring option on one of Florida's top two lines.
Thursday, the Panthers were shutout for the second time in eight games; Florida has been held to two goals or fewer in five straight.
"He's still got it,'' Tallon said. "He's still outstanding, still great to watch.''
Jagr had 11 goals in 57 games with the Devils and recently complained of diminishing playing time since New Jersey fired former Florida coach Pete DeBoer in December.
In 1,530 NHL games, Jagr has 716 goals and 1,068 assists. Jagr also scored 66 goals in three seasons in the KHL from 2008-11.



"This is a real jolt for a team that's winning and close to the playoffs,'' said Chicago television analyst Ed Olczyk, a teammate of Jagr's for two seasons in Pittsburgh.
"This is a real strong message to the players in that locker room that their management is serious about winning. On the ice, he can still generate offense, he's won before and has a great work ethic. He's just a terrific guy.''
The price for Jagr wasn't cheap -- but wasn't all that steep either.
Florida will give up its second round selection in this upcoming draft (hosted by the Panthers in Sunrise) and a conditional third round pick in 2016. The Panthers will also pick up around $850,000 in salary.
What Florida gets back is a tireless worker whom the Panthers hope will give the team's young players invaluable guidance.
Thursday, Tallon said he hoped Jagr would return to play with the Panthers next season -- and beyond.
"I’d love to see him play another year or two here,'' Tallon said. "That’s what his goal is. His fitness level is second to none.''
THURSDAY'S GAME
Chicago finished its sweep of a rare home-and-home series with the Panthers by scoring early in the first (Teuvo Teravainen) and second (Brandon Saad) periods. Jonathan Toews potted an empty-net goal with 47 seconds remaining.
Teravainen was recalled from the minors Wednesday to replace the injured Patrick Kane who is out three months after breaking his collarbone in Tuesday's shootout win over the Panthers.
Florida defenseman Alex Petrovic, whose shove sent Kane into the boards, didn't face any retribution from the Blackhawks.
The Panthers are 3-5-3 in their past 11 games with 21 games remaining. Florida has lost seven straight to Chicago.
"Chicago played a playoff-atmosphere type game,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. "I liked the way we battled and competed but we just weren't good enough [Thursday]. They were a better team, one of the best teams in hockey.''
-- Winger Brandon Pirri, out the past two weeks with a shoulder injury, is close to returning and could be back against Buffalo or Tampa Bay on Sunday.
-- With the trade deadline set for Monday at 3 p.m., Florida winger Tomas Fleischmann is getting a lot of attention from Western Conference teams.
A pending free agent, Fleischmann played in his 262nd game over four seasons with the Panthers on Friday.
-- Winger Garrett Wilson played in his second game since being recalled from the minors on Monday. He's expected to be sent back to San Antonio to make roster space for Jagr.
-- The Panthers will hold an open workout at the Coral Springs IceDen on Friday at 11 a.m.

Jagr jersey photo courtesty of @FlaPanthers

Jagr scoreboard photo courtesy of @DavidDwork

 

BIG MOVE: Panthers acquire Jaromir Jagr for playoff push, give up draft picks

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Panthers addressed their biggest need on Thursday -- scoring -- by trading for future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr.
Florida picked up the 43-year-old winger for a pair of draft picks.
New Jersey will get Florida's second round selection in this upcoming draft (held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise) and a conditional third round pick in 2016.
Jagr broke in with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990 and won a pair of Stanley Cups alongside Mario Lemuiex.
A nine-time All-Star and 15-time 30-goal scorer, Jagr has slowed a bit over the years but should bring the Panthers an added spark on a power play ranked 28th in the league and give them a dangerous scoring option.
Jagr had 11 goals in 57 games with the Devils as he recently complained of diminishing playing time since New Jersey fired former Florida coach Pete DeBoer in December.
In 1,530 NHL games, Jagr has 716 goals and 1,068 assists.
Jagr also scored 66 goals in three seasons in the KHL from 2008-11.
In his four seasons since returning from playing abroad, Jagr has 69 goals with Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas and New Jersey.
Jagr is first among active NHL players in points (1,784), games played (1,530), assists (1,068), goals (716), plus/minus (+284) and power play goals (202).
Among all-time NHL leaders, he ranks first in game-winning goals (127), fifth in points, sixth in goals, seventh in assists and 13th in games played.

 

February 25, 2015

THE CHICAGO WAY?: Alex Petrovic won't face suspension as Chicago comes to Sunrise without Patrick Kane ... Florida kicks off long homestand ... Sean Bergenheim happy in the Wild

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Florida defenseman Alex Petrovic will not be suspended for a hit that injured Chicago's Patrick Kane on Tuesday — but he could have a target on his back come Thursday.
With the Panthers and Chicago playing a rare home-and-home series, Petrovic could find some leftover anger from the Blackhawks when they visit BB&T Center on Thursday night.
Kane, tied for the NHL lead with 64 points, is expected to be miss three months after havingg surgery on a broken collarbone on Wednesday.
Petrovic was given a two-minute penalty for cross-checking Kane midway through the first period of Chicago's eventual 3-2 shootout win at United Center.
After reviewing the play — Petrovic gave Kane a slight shove causing Kane to lose his balance and crash into the boards leading with his left shoulder — the NHL decided no further discipline was warranted.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was incensed on the bench after Kane skated off to the locker room but didn't rip into Petrovic in his postgame media session saying only "live, it looked a little dangerous.''
The Blackhawks and Panthers were both off on Wednesday.


"We're missing a valuable guy, one who is having a year that's very noticeable,'' Quenneville said of Kane, a past postseason MVP who was the top pick of the 2007 NHL draft by current Florida general manager Dale Tallon.
"We still have to stick with it, go with what you've got.''
Former Florida winger Kris Versteeg, who scored Chicago's second goal Tuesday, said Kane is "irreplaceable.''
"You're really ticked off when a player like him gets hurt,'' Versteeg said. "You never want to see someone like that hurt, someone that exciting who people pay to watch play. It's not good for the game."
Kane, 26, is the second high-profile player knocked out for some time by the Panthers this month.
On Feb. 13, Dmitry Kulikov's low body check took out Dallas' Tyler Seguin at the knees. Seguin is expected to miss at least another month with an MCL strain.
Kulikov was suspended four games for the hit, one Seguin called "dirty."
Kane was placed on the long-term injury list.
"You're talking about one of the best players in the league so there's no doubt,'' Florida coach Gerard Gallant said when asked if the Blackhawks are a different team without Kane. "It's unfortunate he got hurt.''
IN THE HUNT
The Panthers battled back from a 2-0 deficit in the third period as Jussi Jokinen and Vincent Trocheck scored in a span of four minutes to gain a point by forcing overtime.
Despite Florida’s strong offensive push in the final minute of overtime, the game went to a shootout where Chicago scored on its two attempts and the Panthers went scoreless against goalie Scott Darling.
The Panthers kick off a season-long seven-game homestand Thursday against the Blackhawks and do so two points back of Boston for the final playoff spot.
"We don't give up,'' goalie Roberto Luongo said. "It's exciting to be in a playoff race at this time of year but we have a lot of work to do. We know that. But we want to keep growing and getting better and have a chance to sneak in.''
-- Sean Bergenheim said he was happy to be traded by the Panthers to Minnesota on Tuesday as he joins another team in the midst of a playoff run.
Bergenheim could make his debut with the Wild Thursday in Nashville after being a healthy scratch in six straight games and nine of the previous 11 by the Panthers.
"I was very very happy. I kind of expected something would happen before the trade deadline,'' said Bergenheim, who in fact asked the Panthers for a trade earlier this month.

Thursday: Blackhawks at Panthers
When, where:
7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSFL; WQAM 560
Series: Chicago leads 18-9-3
Noteworthy: Florida has lost six straight to the Blackhawks and three straight overall after Tuesday's 3-2 shootout loss in Chicago. The Panthers kick off a seven-game homestand with three games in the next four days.

 

February 16, 2015

FOUR GAME VACATION: Dmitry Kulikov gets four games for hit on Tyler Seguin; Can return to Panthers on Sunday in Pittsburgh

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was suspended four games for his hit on Dallas' Tyler Seguin.
Kulikov missed Florida's 2-1 shootout loss to St. Louis on Sunday pending Monday's ruling.
Seguin, who was the second-highest scorer in the league at the time of Friday's hit, is out at least a month with a knee injury.
Although Kulikov was offered an in-person meeting with the NHL's Department of Player Safety in New York, he declined and instead held his hearing over the phone Monday morning as his teammates practiced at BB&T Center.
Kulikov did not travel with the team to Canada on Monday and will miss Florida's three-game tour in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. Kulikov is expected to meet the team in Pittsburgh and could be in the lineup Sunday against the Penguins
By missing four games, Kulikov will forfeit $93,189.96 with that money going to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
"Kulikov bent severely at the waist and throws his body at Seguin's knees flipping Seguin and causing a significant knee injury,'' said Patrick Burke, an NHL player safety director, on the video explaining the ruling.
Kulikov went in for a hip check on Seguin as the Dallas forward crossed into the Florida zone.
Seguin made a pass and didn't see Kulikov coming. Although hip checks are legal, Kulikov appeared to mis-time his and took out Seguin at the knees with his upper body.
The league made the determination that Kulikov's hit was not a hip check but a low body check.
At the time of the hit, Kulikov was charged five minutes for clipping and given a 10-minute game misconduct. There was just 6:55 remaining in what became a 2-0 loss to the Stars.
"It's illegal to throw a body check below the knees,'' Burke said. "The player delivering the check is responsible for any consequences. In this case, Kulikov delivered a dangerous hit that is excessively low leaving the opposing player no way to defend or brace for the contact.''
Florida could have some defensive help coming back soon as captain Willie Mitchell is close to a return. Mitchell practiced Monday and traveled to Canada.
"He's skated four straight days and he's doing well,'' coach Gerard Gallant said.

Here is the NHL video on the incident:

http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=60&id=754213&lang=en

 

HEY OLLI: Former Panthers captain lands in Toronto, doubtful for Tuesday's game against Florida

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Panthers face a Toronto team clearly in the throes of a rebuild Tuesday.
The Maple Leafs, who replaced coach Randy Carlyle with former Florida interim coach Peter Horachek last month, have lost 17 of 19 and came into Monday 12 points out of the final playoff spot in the East.
On Sunday, Toronto traded pending free agents Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson to Nashville. More trades are in the works.
"It has to be tough and I'm sure they're feeling it,'' said Dave Bolland, who played for the Leafs last season.
"When you're in the dumps, people get on you. You have to block it out to do what you need to do on the ice.''
Former Florida captain Olli Jokinen was acquired by the Leafs on Sunday and reported for duty on Monday despite his displeasure with the trade.
Jokinen cannot skate until Santorelli and Franson pass their physicals with Nashville. Word is, he will not face the Panthers for the third time this season.
"As a player, you got to a new team and you try and fit in,'' Jokinen said. "You have a job to do and have to respect the game, respect the players you play with. You have to enjoy playing this game. That's the bottom line. You do what they tell you.''
Jokinen isn't expected to be in Toronto long as general manager Dave Nonis has said he will try find the 15-year veteran a home on a playoff contender by the March 2 trade deadline.
Although he's played in 1217 NHL games (567 over seven seasons with the Panthers), Jokinen appeared in just six postseason games with Calgary in 2009.
Nashville is atop the Western Conference and considered a serious Stanley Cup contender.
"You want to see a guy like that succeed, go to the playoffs,'' said Florida goalie Al Montoya, who played with Jokinen in Winnipeg.
"He went from one of the best teams to a team thatt looks like it's rebuilding. He's a professional, has been his whole career. He knows this game is a business.''
Tuesday: Panthers at Maple Leafs
When, where: 7 p.m.; Air Canada Center, Toronto
TV/Radio: FSFL; WQAM 560
Series: Toronto leads 33-28-7
Noteworthy: Florida has won four of five against the Leafs including a 6-4 decision in Sunrise.

 

February 15, 2015

POINTED COMMENTS: Nick Bjugstad, Roberto Luongo get Panthers a point, displeased it was only one in 2-1 loss to Blues

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Nick Bjugstad and Roberto Luongo were the biggest reasons the Panthers at least got a point out of Sunday's 2-1 shootout loss to the visiting Blues.
Neither one was all too pleased about it. One point simply isn't good enough right now.
"That's not a great mentality to have,'' Luongo said. "You want to win games, that's the mentality that gets you into the playoffs.''
Bjugstad has been the only Florida player to score in the past three games and Sunday, his shot with 1:13 left tied the score and forced overtime after Florida pulled Luongo to add an extra attacker.
"A point is nice, but we want to win,'' Bjugstad said. "You can't be satisfied with that.''
Florida's defensive play has been better lately although its offense has gone dry.
In the Panthers' three-game winless streak (0-2-1), Florida has just two Bjugstad goals -- both odd-angled shots from the goal line -- to show for it.
With goals at a premium, Luongo and St. Louis counterpart Brian Elliott did plenty of heavy lifting.
The Blues' lone goal came midway through the second when Jaden Schwartz's high wrister beat Luongo on St. Louis' 20th shot.
Aside from that, Luongo made 32 saves not including three in the shootout. The Blues' won that 2-1 in the fifth round after Jori Lehtera scored and Jimmy Hayes was stopped.
Elliott earned first star honors after he made 40 saves -- not counting four in the shootout.
"Our goalie was our best player,'' St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said on his way to the bus. "See you tomorrow."
With the point, Florida finally pulled within three points of idle Boston for the final playoff spot in the East. After last Tuesday's 6-2 rout of Anaheim, Florida was four points out.
Then the offense went flat.
"We battled hard, tying it up at the end was huge at the end,'' Luongo said. "It's nice to get a point but it's not going to cut it if we don't start winning games.''
-- Sean Bergenheim, who has asked the Panthers for a trade, was a healthy scratch for the second straight game and fifth time in the past seven.

STEVE MONTADOR: 1979-2015


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards


The Panthers held a moment of silence for defenseman Steve Montador who was found dead in his suburban Toronto home on Sunday morning.


Montador, 35, spent three seasons with the Panthers from 2005-08 and played for five other NHL teams as well.
Popular with teammates and fans alike, Montador had been open about his battle with depression he says was caused by concussions.
"I consider Monty one of my closest friends,'' said St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, a teammate in Florida.
"I heard about it just before we got to the rink. I'm still in disbelief. I don't know what happened. It sucks. I don't think anyone who ever played with him had a bad word to say. He was always happy, smiling. I saw him earlier this year in L.A., spoke to him at Christmas. I wish I would have called him more often.''
Luongo only spent one season with Montador but the two had a lasting relationship. Montador frequented the Italian restaurant Luongo's in-laws owned and the two stayed in touch.
"I've been sad all day. He's been in my thoughts the entire day,'' Luongo said. "He's my age and that's kind of a reality check. You never know what a day will bring. It's tough to hear news like this.''
Martin Gelinas -- who played with Montador with the Flames and Panthers -- fought back tears as he spoke to reporters in Calgary.
"Nobody has a bad thing to say about Steve,'' Gelinas said. "He was a fun guy to be around.''


Photo courtesy of @DavidDwork


 


February 14, 2015

PAYING THE PRICE: Dmitry Kulikov suspended for hit on Tyler Seguin; length to be determined

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
DALLAS -- The Panthers will be without defenseman Dmitry Kulikov for Sunday's game against St. Louis.
How long he'll be out of the lineup will be determined soon.
Kulikov has been suspended by the NHL for his rolling hip check on Dallas' Tyler Seguin in the third period of Florida's 2-0 loss to the Stars.
Seguin, second in the NHL in scoring this year and Dallas' leader with 29 goals, had to be helped off the ice after being taken out at the knees. Seguin was placed on the injured reserve list by the Stars on Saturday and is expected to miss a few weeks at minimum.
"It's a dirty shot, something that takes your best player not only out of the game, but out of our lineup for a little bit,'' Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said afterward.
"Let the league deal with it. I used to yell and scream about things like this and it didn't do any good. It's just a shot that didn't need to happen.''
The league is obviously dealing with it.
Kulikov was granted an in-person hearing by the NHL's player safety department but he turned it down. Kulikov's hearing will now take place over the phone on Monday.
That means Kulikov will be given the opportunity to plead his case as his suspension could be in excess of five games -- starting with Sunday's matchup with the Blues.
Kulikov was given a five-minute major for clipping and a 10-minute game misconduct. He left the ice with 6:55 remaining in the game.
Florida coach Gerard Gallant was seen discussing things with the officials drawing boos from the crowd at AmericanAirlines Center.
After the game, Gallant said he wasn't arguing with the officials over Kulikov's on-ice penalty but he said he was just getting clarification.
"It was the right call,'' Gallant said. "It was a five minute and a game misconduct. There's no issue.''
With Kulikov out, the Panthers recalled veteran defenseman Shane O'Brien from their AHL affiliate in San Antonio.
This will be O'Brien's third stint with the Panthers. The 31-year-old has played in four games with Florida and has appeared in 532 NHL games over the course of his career.
The Panthers had sent Dylan Olsen to San Antonio after he cleared waivers on Jan. 30.
Olsen wasn't available for recall, however, as he has yet to report to the minors.
The Panthers say Olsen is dealing with a "personal matter" and is back home in Canada.
It's not known whether Olsen has been skating or plans on reporting to the Rampage.
TOUGH STRETCH
In a span of 13 days, the Panthers play seven road games with only one at home.
And just their luck, it's the St. Louis Blues who are waiting for them in South Florida.
The Blues, who dismantled the Lightning 6-3 in Tampa on Thursday, have won nine of their past 11. St. Louis has also won five straight against the Panthers.
After Sunday's game, Florida takes off again -- this time for five games. The Panthers will play three games in Canada (Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa) before visiting Pittsburgh and Chicago.
"We have a really tough matchup against St. Louis, we know how good they are,'' defenseman Erik Gudbranson said.
"The games are getting tight and we know that. [Friday's loss] is a tough one to swallow, but we'll regroup.''
-- Defenseman Alex Petrovic laughed off his disappearing act on Friday. Petrovic went to check Vern Fiddler into the boards only Fiddler quickly stopped with Petrovic continuing.
As Petrovic hung halfway over the boards -- there was no glass because it was between the two benches -- Fiddler pushed Petrovic the rest of the way.
"I guess they don't have boards like that in the AHL,'' Petrovic said with a smile. "I thought I could get him, then he pulled a fast one on me. That's OK though.''
Sunday: Blues at Panthers
When, Where: 5 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSFL; WQAM 560
Series: St. Louis leads 18-7-3
Noteworthy: The Panthers lost out to the Blues in their only other meeting this year 4-2 as two pucks went in off Florida players and another went into an empty net.


 

February 13, 2015

THE STARS ARE BIG AND BRIGHT: Dallas takes 2-0 lead, clamps down on Panthers in shutout win ... Costly win for Stars as Seguin, Eaves and Hemsky hurt


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

DALLAS -- The Panthers kicked off perhaps their toughest and most important stretch of games this season with Thursday's loss in Minnesota.

After Friday's 2-0 loss to the host Stars, this run of playing seven of eight away from home only looks more daunting.
For the second straight night, the Panthers failed to create much offense against a team -- like themselves -- on the periphery of the playoff race.
Thursday, Minnesota pulled to within two points of a postseason spot with its 2-1 win over the Panthers. Dallas got to within three after Friday. Florida, by getting none of the available four points, stayed flat.
"Hats off to these guys, we came out after a back-to-back and put pucks on net,'' said Florida goalie Al Montoya who didn't celebrate his 30th birthday the way he wanted as Kari Lehtonen got the shutout with 37 saves.
"The guy at the other end was seeing everything. He was on tonight and saw everything.''
Like Thursday, there wasn't a whole lot to get excited about as Dallas' defensive style stymied the Panthers.
After taking a two goal lead in the first, the Stars clamped down.
Once Dallas' Jason Spezza made it 2-0 on a fabulous goal in which he picked up the puck in the slot, spun around and flung a wrister past Montoya (26 saves), the entertainment level hit the skids.
The biggest highlight after Spezza's SportsCenter-worthy goal came when Florida's Alex Petrovic almost crushed broadcaster Billy Lindsay when he went flying over the boards.
In the second, Petrovic went to check Dallas pest Vernon Fiddler just past the Florida bench. Only Fiddler slammed on the brakes, Petrovic's momentum swinging him over the boards and into Lindsay who was working in the area between the two benches for Fox Florida.
Fiddler then helped Petrovic all the way over leading the Dallas in-house crew to set the numerous replays to R. Kelly's 'I Believe I Can Fly.'
"I guess they don't have boards like that in the AHL,'' Petrovic said with a smile. "I thought I could get him, then he pulled a fast one on me. That's OK though.''
Petrovic's disappearing act was not only humorous -- cameras showed him smiling afterward -- but one of the only memorable things the Panthers did in Dallas.
Dmitry Kulikov was thrown out of the game with 6:55 left after his low hip check took Tyler Seguin out at the knees.
Kulikov was given five minutes for clipping and a game misconduct.
Seguin, whose 59 points are second in the league, was helped off the ice and didn't return.
Dallas coach Lindy Ruff, a former Florida assistant back in the expansion days, said Kulikov's hit was dirty and that Seguin is going to be out of the lineup for some time.
"It's a dirty shot, something that takes your best player not only out of the game, but out of our lineup for a little bit,'' Ruff said.
"Let the league deal with it. I used to yell and scream about things like this and it didn't do any good. It's just a shot that didn't need to happen.''
Moments later, Dallas' Patrick Eaves took a slapshot off the side of the head from John Klingberg.
Eaves hit the ice and didn't move for a few minutes as medical personnel was brought out to check on him.
Eaves eventually was brought to his feet and helped to the locker room. Eaves was evaluated underneath the seating areas being taken to a local hospital.
"He's had a previous injury there so we're pretty concerned,'' Ruff said.