Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Florida Panthers Shut Out in Shootout AGAIN ... Cats lose Fourth Straight Shootout 3-2 to Jersey Devils

Here's the post-game notes from George Richards of the Miami Herald.

On Frozen Pond

Jose Theodore gave up six goals Sunday night against the Rangers, but Panthers coach Kevin Dineen looked at that outing as more fluke than the norm.

With that in mind, Theodore was back between the pipes Tuesday against the Devils. Theodore rewarded Dineen's faith by stopping 32 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss to New Jersey at BankAtlantic Center.

The Panthers are 1-4 in shootouts this season – all coming at home – and have scored just one goal in those five contests. Marcel Goc, who could be out until the New Year, scored to lead Florida to a 3-2 shootout win over Tampa Bay in the home opener.

Despite the loss, the Panthers gained a point over second place Washington. The first-place Panthers have a seven point lead on the Capitals once again.

“We weren't very good and we have to go back, have a few good practices and the next few days will be big for us,'' said Kris Versteeg, who scored both of Florida's goals but is now 0-for-4 in the shootout.

“We weren't good enough all night and that will happen sometimes. We should be thankful we have a point. [Theodore] saved us all game. He's the reason we got to overtime. We should have pushed back.''

Theodore's game Sunday definitely looks like an anomaly as he had only given up four goals once in a game this season and had given up three goals or fewer in 16 straight heading into New York. Theodore let Sunday's game roll off him as he was loose after Tuesday's morning skate, wearing a retro Chicago Bears t-shirt with a Yankees cap tilted to the side.

On Tuesday, he was forced to be at his best as the Panthers struggled for offense once Versteeg gave them a 2-0 lead with another two goal performance against the Devils.

The Panthers were outshot 16-6 in the second period and 5-1 in the third. Florida's one shot in the third was its fewest in a single period this season. The Panthers came hard at Martin Brodeur in overtime but none of their four shots found the back of the net.

In the shootout, Ilya Kovalchuk (5-for-6 this season) scored for the Devils as did Patrik Elias. Florida only got two shots as it shot second; Tomas Fleischmann and Versteeg were stopped.

Florida took a 1-0 lead in the first after a sweet pass from Stephen Weiss found Versteeg on the right side of Brodeur. In the second, Versteeg got loose on a penalty kill and walked in on the Devils' Hall of Fame goalie to make it 2-0.

Elias scored less than a minute after Versteeg's second goal to make it 2-1, with Zach Parise tapping a puck off the back wall past Theodore to tie with 7:40 into the third.

Fleischmann had a chance to give the Panthers the lead but hit the post with 5:16 left.

“We were lucky to get one [point],'' defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. “We had a lot of turnovers and that's eventually going to bite us. We'll take the point and put it in the bank but we could be a lot better.''

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