Goaltender Scott Clemmensen was the hero for the Florida Panthers as they beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 at the BankAtlantic Center on Monday night.
Clemmensen, deputising for the injured Jose Theodore, made 25 saves as the Panthers defied pre-game NHL betting tips to win for only the third time in nine games. Dmitry Kulikov and Marcel Goc scored the crucial goals at the other end. Dale Weise scored and Roberto Luongo finished with 20 saves for Vancouver.
Vancouver opened the scoring 3:11 into the game when Weise scored after a breakout. Manny Malhotra beat defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a loose puck at the blue line and created a 2-on-1 which Weise finished. Weise had a chance to increase the lead later in the first period, but Clemmensen thwarted his attempt to beat him through the 5-hole.
Weise was made to pay for that missed opportunity as the Panthers dominated the second period, outshooting Vancouver 14-2.
Dmitry Kulikov tied the score at 1-1 early in the second period when he picked up a rebound outside of the left circle and unleashed a fierce shot which beat Luongo high to the glove side. Two minutes after Kulikov’s goal, Jason Garrison made a breakaway with the Panthers shorthanded, but Luongo made a pad save.
However, Florida wasn’t to be denied and Goc scored the game-winner at 10:52 of the second period when he struck the puck home after a scrum in front of the net. The Panthers held out for the victory.
It was a disappointing result for Vancouver, which was coming off an emotional 4-3 victory at Boston in a rematch of last season’s Stanley Cup Final and were backed by many of those who like to bet on hockey.
For the Panthers, it gave them the belief that they can beat anyone in the league on any given night.