The Panthers had to feel extremely fortunate to escape the first period of Saturday night’s game down just one goal.
Their fortune changed for the worse in the second as things got so bad all the team wanted to do was flee the scene of this accident.
St. Louis tore open a once-close game by scoring four times within a span of seven minutes to blow the Panthers out of Scottrade Center 7-0.
Soon after the Blues scored twice in the opening 4:09 of the third, fights began breaking out all over the ice.
A total of 15 infractions involving 12 players were called with most of the players given penalties with more time on them then on the clock. Those players would be considered the lucky ones as they got to head to the locker room early and avoid watching the end of this dreadful contest.
A few vocal fans near the Florida bench and tunnel were also sent home early by the authorities. Again, they would be considered fortunate.
“We were hanging on for dear life and got outplayed in every aspect of the game,” coach Kevin Dineen said. “We didn’t rise to the occasion.”
Florida was outplayed by the Blues from the start of the night with Tim Thomas keeping his new team in it.
Thomas made 13 saves in the opening period although he couldn’t find a shot from Brenden Morrow with 6:02 left in the period.
Florida had deftly killed off a 5-on-3 power play chance with Scott Gomez and Shawn Matthias in the box, yet with seven ticks left on the Matthias penalty, Morrow followed a shot from Derek Roy and put it into the back of the net for the lone score of the period.
“You don’t like to se a 7-0 score and it’s all our fault,” Jonathan Huberdeau said. “We had a few scores like that last year and we don’t want any of that this year. We’re better than this. We just have to work harder. It was only 1-0 in the first and into the second. We didn’t have a good start or a good game. We need to step up.”
The Panthers came out in the second and things looked markedly different, as Florida began dictating the flow of the game.
The Panthers’ biggest scoring chance come with 12:45 left when Brad Boyes and Aleksander Barkov charged goalie Jaroslav Halak on a rush with Boyes keeping the shot. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Boyes’ wrister rang off the right post and the Blues kept their one-goal advantage.
Instead of the score being tied, the Panthers suddenly found themselves sliding downhill. A few minutes after Boyes’ shot, Vladimir Tarasenko took advantage of a three-Panther pileup in front of the cage and put the puck through for a 2-0 advantage.
Less than three minutes later it was 3-0 after Florida’s Tom Gilbert gave up the puck behind his net. St. Louis’ Vlad Sobotka fired it to Jaden Schwartz, who flicked it past Thomas for a 3-0 advantage.
Roy made it 4-0 with 3:48 left in the period with Alex Steen polishing things off by scoring on a penalty shot with 57 seconds remaining after being dragged to the ice on a break by Alex Gudbranson.
“It went downhill and snowballed quick,” Thomas said. “As a team you have to find a way to break that momentum and we weren’t able to do it for a long period of time. It wasn’t just a couple minutes.”
Although Thomas (23 saves on 28 shots) stayed in through the end of the second, he didn’t make it past that. Jacob Markstrom came in to start the third but couldn’t staunch the bleeding.
The Blues scored twice off their first four shots to open the third and turn a rout into a true laugher.
Markstrom ended with four saves on six shots in the final 20 minutes of play. The NHL, unfortunately, doesn’t have a mercy rule and allow a running clock in situations Florida found itself in Saturday night.
“We have to be better,” Dineen said. “There is still work to do.
“There was ugliness here [Saturday].”