For the first time in two weeks the Panthers saw Jose Theodore take the ice in net to face his former team, the Colorado Avalanche. Keaton Ellerby was suited up for his 16th game of the season to take recently injured Ed Jovanovski’s place, and Stephen Weiss starting his 600th NHL game, all with the Panthers.
With two minutes gone, play was stopped to repair Jose Theodore’s skate, which seemed to have blown a blade.
With about six minutes gone in the period, Tomas Fleischmann managed to get a good shot on goal in his return to the Pepsi Center. This is the first time he’s been back since scoring 21 points in 22 games to finish last season for the Avalanche.
Both teams looked like they were skating through mud for the first eight minutes, each only logging two shots on goal.
With seven minutes left in the period, Shane O’Brien was called for a roughing penalty on Michal Repik for the Panthers first man advantage of the evening. After clearing the puck out of the zone twice, the Panthers managed to get a dirty goal when Marcel Goc corraled the puck in a scrum in front of Jean Sebastian Giguere for his fifth goal of the season. It was only the second time in the last eight games that the Panthers managed to score first. The Cats are 14-1-4 when tallying the first goal of the game. Assists were earned on the play by Dmitry Kulikov and Michal Repik.
The Avalanche kept the puck in the Panthers for just over a full minute with two minutes to go in the period. The puck cycled for so long I thought it was a power play, but Kulikov finally cleared it out.
As the period ended, Shawn Matthias was called for a high stick, putting Colorado a man up for a full two minutes when the teams take the ice for the second period.
The Panthers took the ice shorthanded for a full two minutes as the second period started. The Panthers kept the Avalanche running up and down the ice for most of the power play, clearing the puck four times before Colorado managed to get set up, then once again to kill it off.
Colorado tied it with seven minutes gone in the period when Peter Mueller went five hole on Jose Theodore off an uncontrolled rebound. Erik Johnson got the only assist on the score. It was Mueller’s first goal in almost two years, as he missed the entire 2010-11 season with a concussion.
Jose Theodore kept the Panthers in it with several big saves on a barrage of shots by the Avalanche at the 13 minute mark.
Stephen Weiss split two Avalanche defensemen and scored what appeared to be the go ahead marker for the Panthers with just over a minute left in the period. Weiss was tripped on the play, and the play was reviewed because it appeared that Weiss may have pushed it in with his hand. After a lengthy wait, the call on ice was upheld, and Weiss had his 12th goal of the season. Dmitry Kulikov and Brian Campbell earned assists on the play, it was Kulikov’s second helper of the night.
Tomas Kopecky made it 3-1 just 20 seconds into the third period on a wide open net on a cross ice pass from Mikael Samuelsson. Marcel Goc also collected an assist on the play.
Kris Versteeg was called for a penalty about 20 seconds later for interfering with Ryan O’Reilly. Five clears and three saves later the penalty expired without incident.
The Panthers were called for too many men on the ice just a few moments later, and were again forced onto the penalty kill. Tomas Fleischmann served the time. Mike Weaver blocked two shots right off the bat, but Colorado, using five forwards, were too much for Theodore, as Mueller scored his second of the night with four minutes gone in the period.
Fleischmann stole the puck for a golden opportunity on a breakaway with five minutes gone, but pulled one move too many. The Cats had a a chance to stuff home the rebound, but Giguere was too quick.
Jay McClement was called for a double minor high-sticking penalty on Matt Bradley at the 8:33 mark. Florida had several chances, but Colorado played them strong, killing the four minute penalty.
The Avalanche tied the game at three with three minutes to go in regulation when Paul Stastny scored his 13th goal of the season with assists by Peter Mueller and Stefan Elliott.
Florida outchanced the Avalanche throughout the first half of the extra period, with several shots on goal, including a three on one break with Fleischmann, Versteeg and Weiss breaking into the Colorado zone, but Versteeg made an extra move and ran out of room.
Colorado won it with one minute left in the frame when Ryan O’Reilly scored his 13th goal of the season, beating Theodore five-hole, with assists by Ryan Wilson and Paul Stastny.
Hits: Avalanche, 14-10 (Matt Bradley, Michal Repik and Mike Santorelli each had two for the Panthers, while four skaters for the Avalanche also had two).
Blocked Shots: Panthers, 21-18 (Brian Campbell led all skaters with five on the night, while Stefan Elliot and Ryan Wilson led Colorado with three each).
Faceoffs: Avalanche, 30-21 (Stephen Weiss led Florida by winning 10 of 18, Marcel Goc won only three of 14).
Shots On Goal: Avalanche, 44-29 (Kris Versteeg had four for Florida, while Paul Stastny had six to lead all skaters).
Score: Avalanche 4, Panthers 3