Even though the Panthers were able to take the lead early Thursday night, the team still inevitably lost to the Ottawa Senators 3-1 – their second loss to the Senators in under a week.
The Panthers’ bad night got started even before the puck had dropped when it was announced that Stephen Weiss would miss the game with an apparent lower-body injury. While Weiss’ play has been less than stellar thus far this season, he is still a valuable asset on a Panthers team that is riddled with injuries.
The absence of Kris Versteeg, Sean Bergenheim and Marcel Goc has been noticeable on the ice as the Panthers’ have struggled to score in every game since the home opener. At this point, a two goal deficit in a game is a death blow until the team learns how to get the puck in the net once again.
Over the course of the game we did see glimpses of what the team could potentially be, but overall the Cats still looked rusty and lazy at times. Blown assignments, bad passes and unnecessary penalties highlighted the evening for the woeful Panthers. In fact, it was a cringe worthy turnover from Shawn Matthias that led to Erik Karlsson’s game winning goal.
The Panthers’ offense was led by an improved Tomas Fleischmann who came out firing early and scored the team’s lone goal while playing like a man who was tired of losing games. However, playing alongside lesser players like Mike Santorelli put a damper on Fleischmann’s attempts and limited his options in the offensive zone.
Also standing in the way of the Panthers’ offense was Ottawa’s number one Panther killer, goalie Craig Anderson. Anderson improved his overall record against Florida to 9-0-1 as he stopped 25 of 26 shots on the night, including a dangerous wrist shot from Peter Mueller that could have tied the game late in the 3rd period.
Panthers’ goaltender Jose Theodore was cast into the fire early on Thursday night as the Ottawa Senators were able to pick apart the Panthers’ porous defense en route to 14 shots on net in just under over 10 minutes of play. Theodore has been the one bright spot during the Panthers’ recent struggles as he once again put the Panthers in a position to win while constantly having to cover for mental lapses by his defenders. Theodore was able to stop 34 of 36 Senators’ shots and had several highlight reel saves.
While Thursday night’s loss was not as bad as the two previous blowouts on their Canadian road trip, the Panthers still can’t seem to find their winning ways as their losing streak hit three games. Last season, the Panthers only lost three straight games once, and in a shortened 48 game season, there is no room for the team to go into these kinds of slumps.
The Panthers will have a chance to break their losing streak on Saturday night against a Philadelphia Flyers team fresh off their first win of the season. The puck drops at 7:30 from the BB&T Center on FOX SPORTS Florida.
- Once again, Captain Ed Jovanovski had limited ice time (15:55 TOI) and was held off of the ice during key situations. I’ve been skeptical of Jovanovski’s promotion from the start and still believe that the Panthers deserve an effective on-ice leader. While Jovanovski is a great locker room presence and motivator off of the ice, I don’t believe he makes a big enough impact during each game to merit wearing the “C”.
- Rookie Drew Shore was average once again in his second NHL start, but did shine brighter than teammate Mike Santorelli on the ice. I really enjoy Shore’s game and think he has a large upside, but the Panthers only have 3 games remaining before they make a decision on whether or not to send Shore back to the AHL for the remainder of the season. He will need to make a statement in the coming games to merit staying in the NHL this year.
- Has anyone seen George Parros lately? The Panthers’ offseason acquisition saw just over 4 minutes of ice time on Thursday and continues to be a non-factor for the team this season. Parros was brought in for his willingness to drop the gloves and light a fire under his team when needed. Well, the Panthers are on a three game losing streak and looking lifeless…time to light that fire?
- Stephen Weiss is currently listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury and is not expected to go on the IR. Hopefully, Weiss’ poor play early on this season can be attributed to this injury and he will come back with new enthusiasm.