The Panthers get back on the W train and calm some very nervous fans

Relax Panthers fans, the Cats are back!

More importantly, they never went away. I read all of the knee jerk reactions on the fan boards and just want to remind everyone that it is an 82-game season.

Please do not forget that they were still able to manage 3 points out of those 4 losses, which is not bad! After starting 10-0-1, you are bound to lose a game or two. No one stays that hot forever.

Besides the 7-3 beating the Devils gave the Cats, the rest of the losses in the last 4 games were by 1 goal and only the Rangers was in regulation. The Panthers had a goal disallowed in the final minutes against the Penguins that would have won it for them then took the defending champs in to a hard-fought overtime. That is nothing to hang your head on Panthers fans.

This being said, last night’s game was a bloodbath from start to finish. The Islanders were out of the game before the puck had dropped.

You could sense something was different in the FLA Live Arena last night and the boys were buzzing from the get go.

The Panthers scored early and often in the first period and ended up chasing Sorokin out of the net for the 2nd. However, it was too little too late for the Isles fans as they were trying to put a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.

Huberdeau opened the scoring less than 7 minutes in to the game by tucking one past a sprawling Sorokin on an incredible pass from Duclair.

The Cats were far from done scoring as about 7 minutes later, Lomberg proceeded to go bar-Mexico off of a rebound generated by Montour’s point shot.

Just like the late Billy Mays would always say, but wait there’s more. And the Panthers were hell bent on scoring again.

“Swaggy” Verhaeghe followed up on his play and was able to bury a beauty rebound after Sorokin made an incredible sliding save on Mountour’s one-T. As a goalie, the worst feeling in the world is to make a beauty save only for the defense to let the guys whack away at it and score on a rebound. In this instance, I feel for Sorokin, but the Cats could not be stopped last night.

The Islanders were trying to let Sorokin finish out the period and live to fight another day; however, Horny then made SportsCenter’s #1 Play of the night when he wired one right past Sorokin’s ear (or off of his ear, you be the judge) and in to the back of the net from an impossible angle.

This was the final nail in what would be Sorokin’s night and the Islanders hopes of making a comeback.

The game became out of reach when Ekblad hammered home a PP goal early in the 2nd, making the lead 5-0 and beating the already dead horse.

Kyle Palmieri would score with about 5 minutes left in the 2nd period; however, it was pretty much a garbage time goal and didn’t do much to help the efforts given by the Islanders.

For a team that was a pre-season top 5 pick to contend for the Cup, they looked like the polar opposite of that last night. Even Big Z seemed off of his game. Barzal could not make anything happen and the Panthers seemed to snuff out any offensive efforts or push that the Isles had.

It was like watching poetry in motion as the Cats controlled the game start to finish and played spectacular on both sides of the puck.

Now for the scary news

Less than 2 minutes in to the 2nd period, Barky and Scotty Mayfield collided knee-to-knee at center ice and Barkov would go down and stay down.

While Mayfield is not known for his gentle touch, you can ask Kucherov about Scotty’s love of breaking ribs, it did not look like a malicious hit or intent to target. It seems as though he was frustrated with his team’s performance and went for a big hit and missed. As Biz says, he got “horny for the hit” and might have gone a little harder to make it; however, Barky tried a move that did not clear the big bodied Mayfield.

The NHL agreed with my assessment as they did not issue supplementary discipline for Scotty.

The good news is that it does not appear to be season ending as Barkov is listed week-to-week and was seen walking around the locker room and able to put weight/pressure on the knee.

Interim coach, Andrew Brunette said post-game that “Sasha Barkov will be out week-to-week; however, there will be no surgery required. “Best case scenario’ he said after the scary looking knee-on-knee hit. Adds he didn’t think Mayfield was malicious or dirty, just ‘reckless.”

While this is a big loss to the Cats, they fortunately have a lighter schedule coming up the next few weeks with the Devils, Wild, and Flyers all visiting. Hopefully, Captain Cat can return in time for next Friday’s showdown versus Ovi.

Or at least for the following night’s annual Pucks and Pints Beerfest where the Cats will play host to the newest team in the NHL, the Krak-heads from Seattle.

Either way, you can take a deep breath Panthers fans as the Cats have snapped their 4-game losing streak in impressive fashion.

As always, in Zito we trust and let’s go Cats!

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