Maybe the road will be kinder to the Florida Panthers than the confines of the BB&T Center have been. The Panthers were shutout for the third time in five games as they dropped a 3-0 decision to the Toronto Maples Leafs Monday night. The loss closes out a disappointing home stand that saw the Cats lose all four games, collecting three out of a possible eight points.
Phil Kessel would give the Leafs all of the offense they would need as his breakaway snipe with three minutes left in first period put the Panthers in a hole they wouldn’t climb out of. The goal came completely against the run of play as Florida came out the more aggressive, outshooting the Leafs 14-7 at the point of the tally.
Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur would add goals and Ben Scrivens would post his second consecutive shutout, recording 37 saves. Like Kessel’s goal, the other two goals came without a Panther player between shooter and goalie, something that’s become all too familiar this season. Jerred Smithson said of the lapses that have plagued the team this season:
“I keep going back to that word, frustrating. I mean, it really is. We come the next day, we put it behind us, we try to learn and, for some reason, we’re getting the same results. We better figure it out here pretty quick or, we’re going to be out of this thing.”
After the game coach Kevin Dineen said his team needs to find the consistency it had last season:
“Defense just isn’t goaltending. I can sit here and pick out individual plays but, as a team, we’re just not playing with enough effort. And that’s something that I felt was and is a part of our identity. When we have success, we’re out working the other team and that’s the difference.”
And so ends the most bizarre of home stands as the Panthers lose all four games, three of them in overtime. They were shutout twice, while they scored five goals in the other two losses. Overall, the Panthers have lost five in a row, picking up the aforementioned three points and now find themselves in 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
If the Panthers are going to find that effort their coach thinks they lack anytime soon, they’re going to have to do it on the road as that’s where they’ll be the next two games against the Philadelphia Flyers and the surging Pittsburgh Penguins. After that, they’ll play three more in front of the home folks against the Pens, Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres. Looking at the positive side, last season, the Panthers botched a four game home stand last February, losing all four games and drawing only a point before winning their next three, including two of three on the road. They’ll have a few days to get themselves together and right the ship as they won’t be in action again until Thursday in Philly.
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