SUNRISE – Somewhere the road turns for the Panthers.
Somewhere the hockey Gods aren’t so cruel, somewhere pucks hit the back of the net rather than the post, and wins accumulate rather than losses.
But right now, the Panthers are 2-7-1 and badly in need of a shot of good fortune.
Despite playing what captain Bryan McCabe called “probably our best 60 minute effort of the year,” the Panthers came up short 4-3 Wednesday evening at BankAtlantic Center against the Senators.
With the game tied at two late in the second period, the Senators scored a pair of even-strength goals 38 seconds apart – one coming off the skate of McCabe – that sent the Panthers to their fourth consecutive loss.
The positives? The Panthers played a disciplined game (only one Senator power play), outshot their opponent 38-29, scored three or more goals for only the third time this season, and finally got a goal from their blue line when McCabe scored on the power play in the third period.
But despite all the positives, the Panthers skated off the ice without a point.
“I thought we generated a lot of chances all game,” said coach Peter DeBoer. “I don’t feel we’re a 2-7 team, but obviously we are. I think we’re headed in the right direction. We’re doing a lot of things out there but we’re not getting rewarded.”
Tonight’s Mayors Jewelers Three Star Selections of the Game are:
1st: Daniel Alfredsson 2nd: Filip Kuba 3rd: Jordan Leopold
Mayors is the Official Jeweler of the Florida Panthers, please visit www.mayors.com or your local South Florida Mayors location.
The Panthers had leads of 1-0 (Steven Reinprecht’s team-leading fifth goal) and 2-1 (Stephen Weiss’s third goal) but the Senators came back both times to tie the game. A critical moment came at the midway mark in the second period with the Panthers on the power play and the score tied at two. The Panthers buzzed the Senators zone, but shots by Michael Frolik and Weiss clanged off the post.
“We were struggling a little,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, referring to the middle of the second period. “They were all over us.”
Five minutes after killing off a pair of penalties in the second period, Nick Foligno took a shot toward the Panthers net at 17:13 that ricocheted off McCabe’s skate and past Tomas Vokoun for a 3-2 Senators lead. Just 38 seconds later, the Panthers had a breakdown in their own end that led to a Jarkko Ruutu goal.
“When things are going bad, you don’t get the bounces and you don’t get the breaks,” McCabe said
The Panthers outshot the Senators 13-8 in the final period and McCabe’s goal made it close, but goalie Brian Elliott, who replaced Pascal Leclaire (flu) after the first period, made some big stops late in the game.
“We played better,” said defenseman Jordan Leopold, who had a pair of assists. “But, obviously, we can’t be satisfied with that.”
DeBoer said the Panthers continue playing well as a group, but it may be time for someone to step forward with a big, individual performance.
“We need someone to be the first star tonight, (to have) a big game, whether it’s a shutout in net or a two or three goal performance by someone,” he said. “I think that’s what we need to put us over the top. As a group, we’re doing some good things. We just need a couple big individual efforts.”
If the road turns for the Panthers it has to come on the road this weekend as the Panthers travel Thursday afternoon to Dallas for a Friday night game against the Stars followed the next night with a game in St. Louis.
“We’re going to stay positive around here,” McCabe said. “We’re going to build on (this game). There’s a lot of positives from this game.”
McCabe led the Panthers with six shots and 22:44 of ice time…Nathan Horton had two assists, was a plus-one, and had two shots…Rookie Dmitry Kulikov played 19:39, including 6:44 on the power play. He ended the night with an assist and was minus-one...Keith Ballard had five blocked shots…Kamil Kreps won five of six faceoffs…The Senators had only two giveaways, the Panthers 10…Michal Repik and Kenndal McArdle, called up from Rochester earlier in the week, saw action. Repik played 6:07 while McArdle played 4:12 and had a five minute fighting penalty after taking on Shean Donovan after the Senators third goal…The Panthers practice Thursday at incredibleIce in Coral Springs at 10:30 a.m….
1 - 0 FLA
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 FLA
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 OTT