Florida Panthers Deep Dive Recap: 04/04-06/2024

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing start to the road trip, Florida looked to improve on the back half. Overall, there was an improvement even if the Panthers split the last two games; the effort was a lot better in those games than in the first two. However, the Cats are still plagued by taking undisciplined penalties, leading to spending too much time on the PK. While having a strong PK will be good for the playoffs, it kills any type of offensive momentum they’re trying to build. The power play is struggling at the moment as well only generating one goal through this week’s games despite having 14 total chances. This may be because teams have wised up to the bumper play with Reinhart, Tkachuk, and Barkov and are centering the entire PK unit on Reinhart. The good news is that Florida is generating more goals on the 5v5 play now and doesn’t need to solely rely on the PP to get it done. All in all, the Panthers looked much better against Ottawa and Boston than they did against Toronto and Montreal.

Ottawa Senators:

After a lackluster game in Montreal, the Cats headed to Ottawa for their third match of the season. The last time they were on Ottawa’s home ice, things descended into chaos by the end with the now famous official penalty call: “Every player on the ice has a 10-minute misconduct along with other penalties”. Bobrovsky got the start in goal for the Panthers, along with the Tarasenko-Barkov-Reinhart forward line to start, and Forsling-OEL on defense; Korpisalo got the start for the Senators. Florida took control early with Forsling getting two shots to the net that got knocked away. Tkachuk’s pass to Cousins led to breaking the ice and a 1-0 lead just a minute and two seconds into the game. That brings Cousins’ goal total up to 6, Tkachuk’s up to 58 assists, and Bennett got the secondary assist, with his total going up to 19. Luostarinen got a shot off that got stick saved, but then, in a surprise for everyone, Kulikov took a shot that found the back of the net for the 2-0 lead 35 seconds after Cousins’ goal, 18:24 to play. That’s Kulikov’s first goal of the season. The pressure continued with Montour, Rodrigues, and Lorentz all getting shots off that got saved or blocked. Forsling blocked a shot before Bobrovsky made a massive play with 13:54 to go. Lorentz got called for delay of the game, sending Ottawa to the PP with 13:14 left in the period. Bob made two good saves on Brady Tkachuk before Luostarinen cleared the zone. Bob made another cover save which was followed by the teams shoving each other in front of the net; The Panthers killed off the penalty. Bob made a great save on a shot that came right off the, faceoff and then OEL took a stick to the face that didn’t get called even though it sent him down to the ice. Lomberg took exception to the high stick that hit OEL and went after Kelly in what was a quick and one-sided fight. Kelly got 2 minutes for roughing, while Lomberg got 2 minutes for roughing & 2 minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Ottawa didn’t have much of anything going on the PP, so the Cats killed off the penalty rather easily, with Luostarinen throwing the puck at that goal, forcing Korpisalo to make a save. Bob made a couple of good saves with 4:45 and 4:36 on the clock before the Panthers headed back to the o-zone to create pressure. OEL got called for interference with 3:39 to play. Bob made a couple of big saves this time around, Mikkola broke up an Ottawa play, and Lorentz got some time on the PK; Florida killed the penalty. Bob made another robbing save with 1:15 to go, followed by Cousins getting a questionable tripping call with 1:08 left and sending the Senators to their 4th PP of the night already. HC Paul Maurice was visibly angry about the tripping call while the Cats killed the penalty to the 1st period buzzer. Barkov, in a rare occurrence, went to have a long chat with the officials before the intermission. The Panthers lead 2-0 after the opening 20 minutes. 

Greig picked up a high-sticking penalty at the buzzer of the 1st period so things started 4v4 in the 2nd. Nothing was getting generated for either side and the Panthers only got shots from Forsling and Barkov that both went wide. Kulikov looked for his 2nd goal, but his shot was saved. For the second time against Ottawa Lundell made an incredible shot from below the goal line that went in to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead with 17:25 to play. Lundell’s shot bounced off the back of Kropisalo and went into the net for his 11th goal of the season. Tarasenko had his shot saved, but then Bennett made things 4-0 with 15:41 left in the period. Tkachuk drew the defense with him and left the puck for Bennett, who then took the shot for his 19th goal of the season. At this point, Ottawa elected to put Forsberg in for Korpisalo. Forsling, Montour, and Rodrigues all got shots off that went wide. 7 and a half minutes into the period, the Senators finally got a SOG that Bobrovsky saved. Mahura and Cousins both blocked Ottawa shots before Brady Tkachuk and Mikkola went at each other at the benches and had to be separated by the officials. With 8:58 to play, Florida got called for too many men, giving the Senators their 5th power play. Bob made a good save, Forsling took a puck to the face, and Stenlund blocked a shot with his stick that broke it before the Panthers cleared the zone to get the personnel change. Kulikov broke up a cross-ice pass, and the Cats killed the rest of the penalty. Cousins got a breakaway chance that went wide, Tarasenko blocked a shot, and then Bob made a great blocker save. Lundell took an extra whack at Forsberg after the whistle had blown, leading to Brannstrom going after him. Reinhart made a pass to Barkov, who then made a perfect pass back through the traffic to set up Reinhart, who took the shot to score and give the Panthers a 5-0 lead. Forsberg committed to a Barkov shot as he came into this game on a 5 game point streak. That gives Reinhart 53 goals on the year and 5 goals behind Pavel Bure who holds the top two season goal records for Florida at 58 & 59 respectively. At the end of two periods, the Panthers hold a 5-0 lead and have outscored Ottawa 10-0 when playing in Ottawa. 

Tkachuk and Bennett had a 2 on 1 chance but couldn’t get a shot off to start the 3rd period, followed by Montour’s shot hitting the post. Bob made two fantastic saves with 17:21 on the clock. Florida finally got a second PP when Pinto got sent to the box for high-sticking Mahura, and there was 16:42 to play. A passive PK from the Senators allowed Barkov to pass the puck to Tkachuk who then redirected it in for a 6-0 lead with 16:06 left in the period. Six Florida players had a multi-point night at this point in the game. Lundell & Forsling’s shots got saved and then Lomberg’s went high. The Panthers got another delay of game penalty when Rodrigues sent the puck up and over the glass with 11:30 left to play. The Cats cleared the zone multiple times, not allowing Ottawa to get set up, and didn’t allow a SOG. The Senators had had over 11 minutes of PP time and the Panthers had only allowed 6 total SOG. Barkov’s chance got saved, Reinhart’s went wide, and Lomberg’s got saved. Things went back and forth in the back half of the period, with Florida evening out the ice time for its players, given all the special teams play. The Cats only allowed 16 SOG for Ottawa in the final two periods despite allowing 14 SOG in the 1st period. Time ran out, and Florida left Ottawa with the 6-0 win, having shut them out for a second time on their home ice. That gave Bobrovsky his 5th Shutout of the season and moved HC Paul Maurice into 4th all wins for Coaches. 

Boston Bruins:

For the second time in two weeks, the Panthers faced off with the Bruins, this time in Boston. Bobrovsky got the start with Ullmark starting for Boston. Gadjovich drew back in on the 4th line with Stenlund and Lomberg. Barkov’s line started once again with Forsling-OEL for the defensive side. The Panthers wasted no time as Tarasenko’s shoot-in took an odd bounce off the glass and went right to Tkachuk, who put it into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead just 37 seconds into the period. After the quick goal, things settled down and went back and forth in the opening 4 minutes of play. Bob made a cover save on another puck that took an odd bounce off the boards. It didn’t take long for fighting to break out either as a fight started in front of the Florida net with 14:51 on the clock. A defensive breakdown from the Cats gave McAvoy enough time and space to make a shot from the blue line to tie the game 1-1 with 14:18 left in the period. Bob made a kick save and a blocker save before Mikkola got called for interference with 13:14 left to play. Bob made a couple of saves, followed by Stenlund clearing the zone. The Cats do get a couple of short-handed chances that get broken up and saved; Florida kills the penalty. At 10:49, Cousins gets called for a high stick, which HC Paul Maurice wasn’t happy about. Kulikov cleared the zone, Boston might’ve been offsides but it wasn’t called if they were, Forsling blocked a show, and Bob made a save to kill off the penalty. Tkachuk had his chance get glove saved while Reinhart’s got deflected high. Another scrum started with 7:43 on the clock with a lot of shoving between players. 6:35 to play, and Lundell got called for tripping to send Boston to its 3rd PP. Stenlund gets a shorty chance that gets deflected high, Bob made a save on Geekie’s shot, and the Panthers kill off the penalty. In the final 4 minutes, the Cats were holding the O-zone before Zacha got called for slashing with 1:39 to go. Barkov and Reinhart both got shots off but didn’t convert, then a fight in front of the Boston net broke out with 29.7 seconds left in the period. McAvoy taking Barkov down to the ice set off the Panthers and the fight. Time wound down, and things ended tied 1-1 after the 1st period. 

Peeke started the 2nd period with a delay of game just 17 seconds into the period. Reinhart & Tarasenko’s shots go wide, Lundell’s hit the outside of the post, and Bennett’s got blocked; Boston killed the penalty. Bobrovsky made a heroic save with 16:31 to play. Boston players went after Tkachuk, penalties were awarded to Peeke and Tkachuk for unsportsmanlike conduct with 15:20 left. Bennett’s shot went wide, Bob made several great saves, and both sides kill off the 4v4. The Bruins and the Panthers traded shot chances, with Bob making the saves and Barkov, Montour, and Mikkola getting the shot chances for Florida. Yet another fight broke out after Barkov got taken down to the ice, this time with everyone but the two goalies getting involved. Wortherspoon was giving a roughing penalty with 9:49 to go. Barkov’s shot missed the tip-in chance from Tkachuk, Bennett’s got saved, and Lundell’s got blocked before the Bruins killed the penalty. Florida continued to hold the offensive zone but wasn’t getting any shots toward the net. Another penalty for the Panthers, this time Tkachuk getting called for interference with 5:42 on the clock. OEL cleared the zone first and the bob made a save with Stenlund picking up the rebound and walks it in deep for the Boston zone. Quick passing from the Bruins got past Mikkola as Coyle tipped in a shot from Marchand for the 1-2 lead and 4:15 left in the period. Bob made a couple more great saves before the period ended, with Boston leading 1-2. 

Things were relatively uneventful in the opening minutes of the final period as neither team was getting space to get any type of offensive pressure going. Finally, Florida was able to establish an offensive presence getting chances from Bennett twice and Tkachuk that got saved. More fighting plagued the game as Cousins got shoved into the glass by Boston, which set off the Panthers with 15:57 to play. McAvoy & Lundell took simultaneous penalties, embellishment & hooking, respectively, with 15:31 on the clock. Lundell then got tripped on his way to the penalty box, but it wasn’t called by the officials despite one escorting Lundell to the box. The Panthers held the offensive zone, and Barkov was able to tie the game after picking up the rebound off of Forsling’s shot, 2-2, with 14:36 left in the period. Montour broke up a play by Marchand followed by Bobrovsky making another save of Pastrnak. Stenlund had his shot saved but then Gadjovich got called for high sticking with 9:37 left in regulation. Bob made another save on Pastrnak, Stenlund cleared the zone, Kulikov blocked a shot, and then Forsling cleared the zone again; the Panthers kill off the penalty. Things went up and down the ice following the penalty, but then there was once again a scrap in front of the Bruins’ net with 6:13 to play. Florida then established a heavy offensive presence getting shots from Tarasenko, Kulikov, Luostarinen, Montour, and Lundell. Bob made a cover save with 2:27 to go, Luostarinen’s shot got saved, another small fight in front of the Boston net, and then Barkov blocked a shot as regulation ended. Things were tied 2-2 and going into overtime. Barkov, Reinhart, and Montour started OT for the Panthers. Bob made a great save on Pastrnak, Bennett’s went just high, and then Bob made a blocker save. An untimely takeaway by Boqvist led to the game-winning goal, and Boston claimed the extra point with a 2-3 win. A tough road trip for the Panthers, but one that saw improvement in the effort and level of play by the end of it. Florida rounds out the regular season at home with games against Ottawa, Columbus, Buffalo, and Toronto.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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