Oh the envy any hockey fan should have at those who were actually in attendance for Thursday's Panthers-Canadiens matchup at FLA Live Arena. Especially if the team I cheered for lit the lamp seven times in the opening period, I don't know what to even do with myself.
Celebrating a goal in hockey can be exhausting. Watching the sport is often a thrilling grind. You're sweating out every moment that happens on the ice when there's been too much of a scoring lull. Always on edge. Two clubs getting physical with each other, trying not to give an inch where that critical neutral-zone turnover happens, or that line change is a second late. The tension is palpable.
So whatever the complete opposite of that is, that's what we had going on here. This is, like, exponentially more scoring than you see from a team in any whole game, much less a 20-minute period. Genuine history-making shit. Look how much Montreal factors into all this:
Of all the flurry of goals that were scored, my favorite had to be when Florida forward Nick Cousins picked that puck up near the crease after his mates held the zone, gathered himself behind the net, and teed up Colin White right in the slot for the Panthers' first goal. Carter Verhaeghe did score twice, but I gotta say, the Cousins-White hookup was my number one — to reiterate — out of seven. Well, out of 10 between the two teams.
The hosts bounced right back after the Habs got on the board only 16 seconds into the game. It was actually 3-3 as both sides were trading haymakers until Florida closed out the period with four unanswered, and even pushed the lead to 9-4 by the second intermission.
Florida wishes some of these goals from tonight could be saved and carried over into other games down the stretch. It's a super tight playoff race; they entered tonight on the outside looking in a season removed from winning the Presidents' Trophy. Good news, the Panthers are trending nicely, now on the precipice of a fourth win in their last five games.
We're in for such a fascinating finish across the NHL, and it seems the Florida Panther are on a mission to be a major factor.