The Canes struck first with a very early goal from Nic "Secret Weapon" Wallin at the 00:59 mark of the first. He slapped it in off the right post with assists from Doug Weight and Eric Staal. This would be one of only five shots attempted by the Canes in the first period. By contrast, the Panthers ripped off 21 shots, scoring twice in the first frame. Martin Gelinas scored at 11:07 when he picked up some loose change, and Chris Gratton scored at the 16:15 mark to give the Panthers a lead they would never surrender.
At 1:31 of the second period, Andrew Ladd had a goal disallowed because there was a goaltender interference penalty on Williams. It looked like he may have been pushed into the keeper, and actually it's up to the discretion of the referee to rule one of three things: (1) incidental contact -- goal counts (2) no goal, but no penalty; or (3) no goal -- goaltender interference penalty. He went with option three.
At 9:11 of the second, Olli Jokinen got his 30th goal of the season to widen the Cats lead to 3-1.
One minute later, at the 10:16 mark, Justin Williams got an unassisted goal, his 22nd of the season, to make it 3-2.
In the second period, the Canes turned it around, getting 16 shots to the Panthers' 5, and they looked a little better, but where it counted, they were still down.
A really peculiar thing took place in a fight between CrAdams and Nathan Horton, but I'll get to that later. For now, the fight was a wash, but Horton got thrown out of the game. He won't be playing tomorrow night either.
In the third period, the Canes looked kind of bad. Lots of sloppy passes, WAY too many off side calls, no quality chances to speak of. They just looked bad.
The third frame looked like it was going to be a stalemate, but then there was a scoring bonanza in the final 90 seconds. Olli Jokinen scored an impossible goal from behind the goal line. Literally behind the goal line. He banked it in off Gerber's left arm, giving the Panthers a 4-2 lead.
However, the Canes weren't really ready to roll over and die. With Gerber pulled for a sixth attacker, they started applying crazy pressure. There were lots of good chances, and finally, Brindy was able to cash in at 19:19. Weight got his second assist, (his third as a Cane) and Staal got his second assist of the night and his 45th of the season.
Josef Stumpel added an empty netter at 19:48 to account for the final goal, making it 5-3. It didn't have a chance, but hit something, causing it to bounce, and go on end. It rolled on edge into the empty net, effectively ending the game.
The same two teams will meet tomorrow night in the same building. Except the Panthers will not have the services of Nathan Horton, who
Anyway, same two teams Saturday night 7:30 puck drop.