Just when you thought it would be another one of "those games" in Sunrise, Florida, two rookies stepped up and led by example as they refused to allow their team to give up. The Florida Panthers scored 29 seconds into the game, added another goal 73 seconds later, and chased starter Cam Ward before two minutes had elapsed in the contest.
Justin Peters was then thrown into the hornet's nest in what seemed like another game that was out of control. His teammates didn't initially do him any favors as two quick penalties were called. Florida had almost a minute and a half of a 5-on-3 advantage and they didn't waste the opportunity. Bryan McCabe rifled in a shot from the point to make the score 3-0, just 5:16 into the game.
Was this going to be another seven goal laugher?
Apparently, Jeff Skinner didn't think so. The youngest player in the NHL was all over the ice in this game as he created chance after chance in the offensive zone. Fellow rookie and roommate, Peters held the fort in net the rest of the way as the Carolina Hurricanes clawed their way past the Panthers, 4-3 in a wild matchup on Wednesday night.
Skinner showed the consistent guts and determination throughout this game which made him one of the top performers in the junior leagues last season. On one play late in the first period, he single-handedly drove to the net with a defenseman all over him and somehow bounced the puck into the net past Tomas Vokoun.
The ref disallowed the goal though and said that there was inadvertent contact with the goalie, when replays showed that the puck had crossed the goal line before Skinner had been pushed into Vokoun.
Did the rookie give up? No.
He kept working and created the Hurricanes' first goal late in the second period when he made a move past the defense and put a shot on Vokoun. The rebound bounced right out to a wide open Erik Cole, who made no mistake putting the puck into the net.
The goal seemed to give the visitors life and the team was juiced up big time in the third period.
Jamie McBain would score his first goal of the season from a tight angle at the side of the net as the puck had eyes and somehow got past the Florida netminder.
Skinner then drew a penalty on a spin move after the Panthers were called for too many men on the ice, giving the Canes a 5-on-3 chance of their own. Once again, the rookie created something as he took the puck to the net from the left side. Vokoun made the initial stop but Tuomo Ruutu was right there to clean up the mess as he knocked the rebound in to tie things up.
Just 1:28 after that, Ruutu would score again when Vokoun gave up a soft pass right in front of his own net. The Finn darted in, stole the puck, and beat the goalie for the game winner.
Peters and the Canes held on the rest of the way to triumph over their division rivals in a turn-around which should give them a jolt moving forward. They left for Atlanta immediately after the game for a contest with the Thrashers on Thursday night.
Quick Thoughts and Stats:
- It would have been easy for the team to mail this game in after being down, 3-0 just five minutes into it. But give them credit, they fought back hard.
- Peters made 21 saves on 22 shots to earn his first win of the season. He came in under very tough circumstances and did well to keep the score down because Florida was really firing on all cylinders at that time. He was named third star by Yahoo!.
- Ruutu was named the game's first star for potting his two goals, the last one the game winner on that dreadful turnover by Vokoun. The "Gladiator" made a nice anticipation play on the steal, then fired in a perfect shot to boot.
- The Canes tried to physically dominate the Panthers and out-hit them 38 to 21. That strategy seemed to work and the home team ran out of gas down the stretch as Carolina steamrolled them in the third, out-shooting them 12-4. Tim Gleason had a team high seven hits.
- One can not say enough about Jeff Skinner, who seemed to carry the team on his back at points in the game. He had a game high eight shots on goal and finished with two assists. Most would probably agree that he should have been credited with that disallowed goal as well.
- The team had a bad night in the faceoff circle, winning just 38%. The first goal was the direct result of a faceoff loss in front of Ward. Eric Staal finished with a team high 50%.
We'll leave this recap with a question and a poll at the end. If you are Paul Maurice, do you reward Justin Peters with another start in Atlanta, or go back to your number one guy, Cam Ward?
Should Paul Maurice reward Justin Peters with a start in Atlanta, or go back to number one guy, Cam Ward?
Peters deserves a start, go with the rookie (106 votes)
Ward will be extra motivated, go back to him (177 votes)
Not sure (11 votes)
294 total votes