In what started out as a bit of a dull game in front of a sparse crowd in Sunrise, Florida, the Thrashers and Panthers have picked up the pace. Combining for three goals in the first period, both teams seem to be determined to make the game as exciting as possible, crowd be damned.
Niclas Bergfors opened the scoring at 12:52 on a feed from Andrew Ladd for his 8th of the year. He took possession on a near off-sides by Florida, passed the puck to Ladd in moving into the Florida zone, and then received the set up pass back from Ladd. He shot the puck from at the right faceoff dot, beating Tomas Vokoun glove side. The puck bounced off the post and directly into the net.
A minute and a half later, Stephen Weiss scored to tie the game on a cross-crease pass from Chris Higgins. There was a scare a few minutes prior with Dustin Byfuglien, who awkwardly fell into the boards, striking his right knee in the process. He returned to the game just before Weiss’ goal.
The Florida Panthers are the least penalized team in the NHL, but there was something about the Thrashers tonight that seemed to encourage Florida to get the whistle. At 16:04, Bryan Allen got the whistle for delay of game, which the Panthers killed off. At 18:34 Dmitry Kulikov got whistled for interference on Patrice Cormier and then just twenty-five seconds later Jason Garrison got called for high sticking to Rich Peverley’s head. If you hit Peverley in the head, he apparently will hit the puck in your net. Peverley scored at 19:29 of the period on the first powerplay by taking the puck to the net and getting his own rebound off of Vokoun’s pad. Tenacity gets rewarded in the form of Peverley’s 10th goal of the season – the sixth Thrasher to hit that mark.