Friday, March 18, 2011

Luck of the Irish? Cats Stun Leafs 4-0

March 18, 2011

SUNRISE - In a surprise move, Scott Clemmenson took the spot between the pipes for the Florida Panthers as they tried to play the spoiler role they've become accustomed to. The move paid off as "the Clemmer" brought his A-game and earned his first shutout of the 2010-11 season Thursday night.

After a quiet first period that saw 15 shots and a fight between Mike Duco and Mike Brown. Duco, who fought in his last game Tuesday, and is a Toronto native, won the fight, knocking Brown down to the ice at the 15:15 mark.

The real action got going just :49 into the second frame. After the Panthers cycled the puck around the offensive zone on the left side, Jason Garrison camped out at the point, receiving a pass from Niclas Bergfors, let go a slap shot that was tipped in by Sergei Samsonov for his 12th goal of the year.

After Nikolai Kulemin went to the sin bin for hooking, Stephen Weiss "chilled out" at the right wing faceoff dot, wristing a shot past J.S. Giguere for his 20th goal. Dmitry Kulikov and Michal Repik helped on the goal at 5:11.

After Dion Phaneuf went to the box for kneeing (a play that took David Booth out of the game and into the dressing room), the Panthers got their second powerplay goal and third overall goal of the period, sending the Leafs into a panic. The Panthers held the puck in the zone and applied pressure. Weiss passed from the top to Samsonov on the left side. Florida crashed the net, allowing Mike Santorelli to stuff the puck home for his 18th goal of the season at 11:31.

At 12:10, after Ryan Carter landed a clean, open ice hit, Keith Aulie took offense, dropping the gloves. Aulie clearly won the fight, landing punch after punch before Carter could get one in moments before falling to the ground. It was also a desperation attempt to get some energy back into the game, with Florida up three.

The score remained the same until late in the third, when in another desperation attempt, the Leafs pulled their goalie with over three minutes to go. at 16:36, Keaton Ellerby shot towards the empty net to put the icing on the cake and send the Leafs back to Canada, where they will face the Boston Bruins on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night.

R.I.P. - Panthers amatuer scout Luke Williams passed away Tuesday night. Here is the Panthers official statement:

The Florida Panthers organization is saddened to announce the passing of amateur scout Luke Williams. Williams, who served as a Panthers scout for the last eight seasons, was involved in a fatal car accident late last night. He is survived by his wife Lucy and three children Sandy, Jeff and John.

“Luke was a true professional and an exceptional human being,” said Florida Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon. “The thoughts and prayers of the entire Panthers organization and our fans are with his family during this difficult time.”

Williams also worked in the National Hockey League for the NY Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning. In addition, he served as the head scout for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL), while also working for Belleville (OHL) and London (OHL).

“Luke was the senior member of the scouting fraternity,” said Panthers Director of Scouting Scott Luce. “He was well liked and respected by all involved with our game.  He was a mentor and good friend to our entire staff and we will miss him greatly.”

Services Williams will be held at the John T. Donohue Funeral Home Friday and Saturday.  In lieu of flowers, a donation in Luke’s name can be made to the Oakridge Aeros Hockey Association or the London Minor Hockey Association.

CAT BYTES: The Leafs were shut out for the 11th time this season. Toronto remains 4 points back of Buffalo for 8th in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo has two games in hand. The Maple Leafs are tied with Atlanta, each with 72 points. Carolina is in ninth place with 74 points, 2 back of the Sabres 76. 16,970 attended on St. Patrick's day. Ironically, Ian Walsh and Dan O'Halloran were the referees for the game.

THREE STARS: 3) Stephen Weiss 1 G 1 A 2) Scott Clemmensen (shutout) 1) Sergei Samsonov 1 G (GWG) 1 A

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