Finally after 11 consectuive games dating back to November 2003 the Panthers get a win in Atlanta beating the Thrashers 5-3. Once again a solid performance by Tomas Vokoun leading the way with key saves when they were needed. It was also nice however to see Nathan Horton get on the scoreboard with 2 goals. Hopefully this will spark him going forward and get him out of the slump, or funk, if you will that he was in.
To have any success going forward the Panthers are going to need Nathan to get some goals on a regular basis and to be more consistent, as his play recently has been subpar at best. A 2 goal game in a win should be the medicine to get him going. Nice to see him smiling during the post game interview, I imagine he is feeling very relieved.
With last nights win the Panthers are now 2 points off the division lead from Carolina, and in a tie for 8th place with surging Buffalo, both with 39 points. The Montreal Canadiens come to town tonight, and both teams will be playing back to back games, but the game is sold out and should provide the Panthers some good home cooking energy to get a good start!
Montreal boasts a very good road record as they are 12-6-2 on the road, and the Panthers have had some trouble at home with inconsistent play, but hopefully the crowd and the confidence of last nights win will carryover into tonight.
I would expect to see Vokoun back in net tonight and would be very surprised if Anderson started. No reason to change things at this point, and the players need the confidence of their number one goalie in net! One thing the Panthers must do is stay out of the penalty box. Montreal has too much fire power on their powerplay, and we don't want to get into a special teams battle. Usually in back to back games the Panthers appear sluggish and take some pretty lazy penalties and that I think is mostly from being out of position, and tired from the night before. Also, Jacques Martin played with a shortened bench for a good part of the game rolling mostly 3 lines, so that may have an effect.
A win tonight would be huge, and hopefully there is no scoreboard watching as both Buffalo and Carolina are playing. This game tonight is a must win and will really test the Panthers maturity, and provide a great opportunity to show that they can put a couple good games together!