The Panthers jumped out to the lead in the first period, but surrendered four unanswered goals.
It could’ve been worse for the Panthers. Forward Jussi Jokinen was on the receiving end of a high, late hit from Ottawa blue liner Jared Cowen in the second period. Jokinen remained down on the ice, but did stay in the game.
Cowen was handed a minor penalty for interference. He fought Shawn Thornton two seconds after stepping out of the box.
21.4% — Nick Foligno’s shooting percentage. Among NHL regulars, only Colorado’s Alex Tanguay (23.5%) has a higher conversion rate. Which is why many questioned the wisdom of giving Foligno — a 27-year-old who’s never scored more than 20 goals in a season, and has a career shooting percentage of 12.3 — a six-year, $33 million contract extension. Not saying he’s a bad player, and not saying he could be replaced for way less money. But he sure picked a good time to get hot.
16:43 — Average ice time for Florida’s Nick Bjugstad. Among Panthers forwards, that’s the most on the team. Which is pretty amazing, considering his ice time ranks tied for 135th (with Minnesota’s Thomas Vanek) among all NHL forwards. Indeed, the Panthers take rolling all four lines to the extreme. Saturday in Edmonton, they didn’t have a single forward who played less than 11:46 (Tomas Fleischmann), while no forward played more than 17:37 (Jussi Jokinen).
53 — Takeaways for Colorado forward Ryan O’Reilly. That’s the most in the NHL. We mostly mention this because O’Reilly’s name continues to come up in trade speculation. O’Reilly is signed through next season for a cap hit of $6 million, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent. The Avs are still alive in the playoff race, but it’ll be interesting to see where they are come March 2. O’Reilly could be a huge pick-up for a Stanley Cup contender. Granted, he won’t come cheap, which could make an offseason deal more likely, if he’s traded at all.
93.2 — Nino Niederreiter’s PDO. Among skaters that have logged at least 400 minutes of ice time, that’s the lowest. And it helps explain the fact he’s minus-14, the worst plus-minus on the Wild. Five on five, Minnesota goalies have registered an .874 save percentage when Niederreiter’s been on the ice this season. Not sure that’s all his fault.
107.8 — Mike Hoffman’s PDO. Among skaters that have logged at least 400 minutes of ice time, that’s the highest. Not surprisingly, he has a good plus-minus, at plus-19. Just not sure how much credit the 25-year-old winger deserves for Ottawa’s goalies registering a .952 save percentage when he’s been on the ice.
One team just seems to do enough to win even with mounting injuries and illnesses. The other has been winning a lot lately, even if people mainly pay attention to their occasional attendance issues.
The Pittsburgh Penguins showed some moxie in grabbing a point on Monday, but the Florida Panthers ultimately got the “W” via a 4-3 shootout victory.
The Penguins grabbed an early 1-0 lead that they protected through most of the second period, but Jussi Jokinen scorned his former team by tying it 1-1 with about 30 seconds left in the middle frame. Jimmy Hayes scored twice early in the third period to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead, yet goals by Nick Spaling and Evgeni Malkin sent it to OT.
The Panthers generated a 37-27 shot advantage on Monday, yet Marc-Andre Fleury helped his team stay in there.
Many believe that Sean Bergenheim’s hit on Bobby Farnham served as one of the pivotal moments of the contest:
(Bergenheim also collected two assists, if you’re into more objective measures.)
Oh yeah, there was also that absolutely wicked Aleksander Barkov shootout goal:
Not to mention Roberto Luongo’s brilliant shootout save on Chris Kunitz:
Pittsburgh’s success has been remarkable with all of its health issues, as they’ve generated a point in all but one December contest, going 6-1-3 in its last 10 games. The Panthers haven’t been far behind with a 6-3-2 record in December.
There’s plenty of season left, but the Panthers made a statement that they shouldn’t be taken lightly while the Penguins showed that they’ll be a tough out even with plenty of players out of the lineup.