Sports Outside the Beltway

Miracle in Montreal

The Florida Panthers had no business winning last night.

MONTREAL — Tuesday night showed why the Panthers grabbed goalie Tomas Vokoun this past summer.

Dead offensively throughout the game, the only reason Florida was within striking distance of the host Canadiens was the play of Vokoun. The All-Star netminder kept the Panthers’ deficit at a goal, giving his outplayed team a chance.

What a chance it was.

Nathan Horton’s goal with 10.2 seconds left tied the score, and Jozef Stumpel got the shootout winner as the Panthers crept out of town with a 2-1 victory at the Bell Centre. The Panthers have now won three games in a row after an 0-3 start.

”We were pretty bad for 59 minutes,” Jay Bouwmeester said. “[Vokoun] played real great. He stole that one for sure. He’s a good goalie. We knew he could do that. Sometimes a goalie has to steal one for you.”

Vokoun was nothing short of a miracle worker last night. After a slow start, probably atttributable to moving from the NHL’s Western to Eastern conference, the Czech born goaltender is playing like Florida Panthers fans hoped and dreamed he would.

The Panthers stand at 3-3, and have won their last three in a row. Unlike hurricane forecasters, I will stick by my preseason prediction. The Panthers, riding the likes of Stumpel, Horton, Olli Jokinen, Vokoun, and some fine defensemen like Bryan Allen(The only good thing to result from the Roberto Luongo fiasco trade), will make the playoffs this year.

Note- I’ve watched every Panther game this season so far. Including last night’s, which was only available on NHL Center Ice. I must be going through a mid-life crisis, for I hadn’t watched hockey seriously the New York Islanders were NHL Champs in the early 80′s.

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