The Florida Panthers played their first regular season NHL game last night. From the Sun-Sentinel-
The Panthers began their 17th season and first under General Manager Dale Tallon with a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Sunday night.
Those watching saw a different Panthers team from years past.
Sure, they were still offensively challenged against last season’s worst team, missing point-blank shots that should’ve given them a 2-0 lead after one, instead of a scoreless tie.
Throughout the first two periods, Tallon and third-year coach Pete DeBoer watched their charges, including seven newcomers, dominate the game with smothering defense and solid forechecking, but still trailed 3-2 on deflected goals by Dustin Penner and Ryan Jones, as well as a goal by Shawn Horcoff that appeared to have been kicked in, but stood after a review.
“It looked very clear to me. I don’t know what else a kicking motion is. … That’s what I saw. … It didn’t surprise me they count it. They’re trying to get the scoring up.”
The Panthers outshot Edmonton 23-7 after two periods (28-13 overall), but three Edmonton shots got past Vokoun. The Panthers fell to 7-7-3 in season openers, including 2-7-1 on the road.
“It’s frustrating in that we didn’t get rewarded for the effort we put in,” DeBoer said. “It looked like a kick to me. The interpetation of that rule I don’t understand. I don’t know if you have to take a punter’s kick at it for it not to count.”
Thanks to two new Panthers forwards, Steve Bernier and former Oiler Marty Reasoner, the deficit was cut to one heading into the third. Bernier, a major part of the draft-day trade with the Canucks involving defenseman Keith Ballard, stole the puck and set up Reasoner for an open wrist shot that he buried from the faceoff circle.
Then with 2:09 left in the period, Bernier fed left wing David Booth, who, showing no ill effects from last year’s concussions, ripped a shot at veteran goalie Nikolai Khabibulin that popped back to Reasoner for the stuff shot.
Here is video of the Horcoff shot. The view that begins at the 1:18 mark seems to clearly show a kick.
Florida lost and it was due to fluke shots and a bad call by the referees. The team and its fans have to get over it. Next up is a game with Vancouver, tonight. The Canucks are picked by many to be in the NHL finals next spring. Florida’s path at the beginning of the 2010-11 NHL season is only getting tougher.
Hat tip for the above video- Donny at Litter Box Cats.
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