Last night was the one-year anniversary of the night in Buffalo when Panthers winger Richard Zednik almost died after Olli Jokinen's skate slashed his carotid artery and sent five pints of blood onto the ice.
A few days in the hospital and a blood transfusion later, Zednik was eying a return to the ice, proving he's either incredibly tough, incredibly stupid or a new breed of hockey zombie. Zombie or not, Zednik definitely has a flair for dramatic timing.
For the first 48 minutes, the Panthers looked as if they
wanted to lose this game. The Cats were losing almost every important
face-off, not chasing pucks in the corners and letting Toronto's players
camp out in front of Tomas Vokoun and stuff four rebound goals past the
overwhelmed net minder.
By period three, a self-respecting hockey fan couldn't be blamed for changing the channel to the Bruins Sharks game. Most Panthers fans don't fall into that category, and their lack of dignity paid off when Nathan Horton scored, bringing the Cats within two goals. Two minutes later Ville Peltonen hammered one in and set up the dramatic finish. Zednik scored the game tying goal with 5:29 left in the game and netted the game winner 1:08 into overtime, making every sportswriter's job a thousand times easier and vaulting the Panthers back into a playoff spot.