In the final game of their western Canada swing, the Panthers finally caught that elusive first victory. With a stellar performance by goaltender Tomas Vokoun leading the way, the Panthers skated their way out of the Penngrowth Saddledome with a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames.
Radek Dvorak led the offense by scoring his first two goals of the season. Dvorak parked himself in front of Miika Kiprusoff and slid home a rebound off a Marty Reasoner shot 4:20 into the first period. Dvorak found his scoring touch again at 7:25 when he took a drop pass from Marty Reasoner and rang a slap shot off the far post and into the net. The second period was very limited offensively with only 8 total shots, 4 by either team. In the third period, the Panthers put the final nail in the coffin when Shawn Matthias finished off a beautiful pass from Rotislav Olesz as he snapped one over the blocker of Kiprusoff 9:57 into the third period.
Tomas Vokoun looked solid in net all night stopping all 27 pucks the Flames threw at him. Not every save was an easy one, especially in the third period when the desperate Flames fired 17 shots on goal, including many quality scoring chances. Despite a shaky first few games against Edmonton and Vancouver, he looked to be back in his form from last season. With tonight’s shutout, Vokoun improved to 1-2 on the season with a .933% save percentage and a 1.69 goals against average.
Despite dropping the first two games of the trip, 3-2 to Edmonton and 2-1 to Vancouver, they have played some good hockey. The young guns are showing up to play this year and making them a very difficult team to play against. Although Stephen Weiss, Michael Frolik, and David Booth have yet to score they have all looked spectacular and it’s only a matter of time before they start contributing to this offense. On the other hand, the veteran Marty Reasoner is enjoying his move as he has started off with 2 g – 2 a – 4 pts over the first three games. The team is confident as they prepare for Saturday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning (3-0-0) in their home opener. A win there could do wonders for this young teams’ confidence, but it won’t be easy as the Lightning have gotten a good jump out of the gate this year and earned a tough 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers last night.
Agreed, they looked fantastic last night, and I feel like they have looked good and improved every game. It was tough losing those two close games but I think it helped to give this team, which has a lot of new faces and young players, a sense of identity. I am very excited for them the rest of the season and with the youth on the team they shouldn't have a problem with fatigue come the end of the season. Tomas Vokoun looks to be back on top of his game and he should give them a chance to win every night, it will just be up to the team in front of him. I look forward to Saturday when they open the BankAtlantic Center this year against a very tough Lightning team whoI saw play last night. The key there will be to shut down the red-hot Steven Stamkos and use their speed against a rather slow Tampa Bay defense. It could come down to goaltending, a battle Vokoun should win.