It wasn't quite as shocking as a snowstorm in Atlanta or Peyton Manning''s performance Sunday, but there were a few extremely rare sightings in the BB&T Center Tuesday evening. First, the Panthers scored a power-play goal, their second in their last 53 chances and first at home since Dec. 28. Then five minutes later, perhaps their most mild-mannered player, second-year forward Jonathan Huberdeau went fist city for his first NHL fight. Combine those rarities with goalie Tim Thomas' usual dominance of the Maple Leafs and it added up to a much-needed even rarer 4-1 blowout victory to snap a three-game losing streak. Panthers captain Ed Jovanovski said after morning skate that they needed to play with an, "edge,'' because when they don't, "we're a very mediocre team.'' "I think we have to just play [ticked] off, knowing where we are in the standings and want to win.'' They did seem to play with a chip on their shoulders all night, particularly Huberdeau and forward Sean Bergenheim, who hit every Maple Leaf (5 hits) he saw. Their most obvious edge came on the shot counter as they outshot the Leafs 48-21, a season high for the Panthers (45 in a loss to Buffalo on Oct. 25). "It was collectively a great team effort, probably one of our better ones of the season,'' Jovanovski said. "That's how we're effective, limiting our turnovers … trying to crowd the crease area and get some goals. … Everybody's got to tug the same way. If it doesn't, it doesn't work.'' And it came against a torrid, yet sleep-walking Toronto team, who came into Sunrise on a fathers-son trip in the midst of a 10-1-1 stretch, that included a 6-3 beatdown of the Panthers just five days earlier in Air Canada Centre. After a scoreless first period thoroughly owned by the Panthers in shots (19-4) and puck possession, they finally lit the lamp just 1:14 into the second on a power-play goal by defenseman Tom Gilbert.
Panthers dominant Leafs 4-1
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Feb 5