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Florida Panthers streaks end in blowout loss to Calgary Flames

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Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom stops Carter Verhaeghe of the Florida Panthes during the second period of Calgary’s win on Tuesday night at the Saddledome. — Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

For the first time in quite a while, the Florida Panthers were on the receiving end of a beatdown, losing 5-1 to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night at the Saddledome.

How much one can blame the long travel to western Canada or a team starting to believe all the positivity heaped upon them of late depends on who you speak to.

Or, it was simply a case of a good team just getting beat.

It happens just about every night in the NHL.

The Panthers, one should know, are not invincible.

That was proven again on Tuesday night.

”We didn’t come prepared to play here early, and that’s on me,” said coach Andrew Brunette, whose team came in riding a four-game winning streak and a nine-game (8-0-1) point streak.

“We weren’t prepared to pay the price tonight and that is going to happen in games like this. We had some opportunities to get our game back and that didn’t happen.”

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Tuesday’s smackdown was Florida’s worst loss since the Ottawa Senators — yeah, this really happened — beat the Panthers 8-2 in Sunrise on Dec. 14.

Some of that debacle can now be blamed on the Panthers being on the verge of a Covid breakout. Any losses, much less blowouts, have definitely been an outlier for the Panthers.

Florida, when healthy, usually gives better than it gets.

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Tuesday night, however, it was a desperate Calgary team backed by a red-hot goalie likely still salty from how the Panthers treated him the last time out knocking Florida down a notch.

Jacob Markstrom, Florida’s former ‘goalie-of-the-future,’ out dueled the current holder of that position as he kept the Panthers from ever breaking through.

The Panthers trailed 2-1 in the second period after Sam Bennett scored in his return to the Saddledome but never got any closer.

”He is a good goalie and we have to do a better job of getting in front of him and making his job a little tougher,” Ryan Lomberg said. “Just like any goalie in the league, if they see the puck, more often than not, they’re going to stop it.”

Spencer Knight took the loss for the Panthers as he gave up five goals on 31 shots — a couple of which were deflections and one knocked in by Matthew Tkachuk on Johnny Gaudreau’s fourth assist of the night.

Brunette did not place blame on his rookie goalie — nor should he have — as Knight kept the Panthers in the game.

Problem was, Markstrom was not allowing anything in his 28 save night.

“Early on, we weren’t much help,” Brunette said. “I thought he got his game going in the second period. In the third, I was disappointed in the chances we gave up against him. I thought he was solid, gave us a chance right there at a 2-1 game. We sort of self-destructed there. … We didn’t put him in a good position and he battled his butt off.”

Florida found itself down 2-0 in the opening period to a Calgary team desperate for a win.

Florida Panthers star center Sasha Barkov misses out on NHL All-Star vote

The Flames were riding a four-game losing streak (one that started with a 6-2 loss to the Panthers in Sunrise) and looked ready to get any sort of a win — signature or not — against the NHL’s newest media darlings.

One could say Florida became so accustomed to blowing teams out that it  did not know how to respond, but that wouldn’t be fair.

The Panthers may not have brought their A-Game to Calgary, but they threw plenty at Markstrom at least until the score started getting out of hand.

Down 2-0, Florida had chance after chance but failed to score until Carter Verhaeghe and Mason Marchment both hit the post, Marchment getting his rebound back and feeding Bennett 12:36 into the second period. ‘

“The losses are definitely good learning experiences for us,” Marchment said. “We’re going to take them with a grain of salt and then move on, try to come out with a better effort the next game. (Calgary) played hard and we came out a little slow. We definitely have way better. All the boys know that.”

The Panthers continued coming at Markstrom to no avail and opened up the third period with a number of good looks including another one from Verhaeghe.

Only it was Calgary swinging the hammer instead of the Panthers, Tkachuk scoring the breakthrough goal to make it 4-1 less than four minutes into the third period.

The Flames ended up scoring one more time, Sean Monahan getting his second of the night a few minutes later off a breakaway started on a Florida turnover.

Florida now moves north up the Edmonton Trail — or, the Calgary Trail depending on which direction you’re headed — to play the Oilers on Thursday night.

If the Panthers thought Calgary was desperate for a win, wait until this next one.

Edmonton has lost its past six games and 12 of the past 14 with the team seemingly on the verge of implosion.

If the Panthers needed a swift kick in the tail, well, they got one on Tuesday.

Everyone needs that at some point.

“As nice as it would be to go 82-0, you have ups-and-downs throughout the season and it’s all about how you respond,” Lomberg said. “As a group, we’re putting this one behind us. We’ll watch the video, put it behind us. … It’s all about how you respond. We’re all looking forward to the next one, for sure.”

Patric Hornqvist left Tuesday’s game in the second period after only playing seven minutes and did not return.

Brunette said Hornqvist had an upper body injury and would be evaluated Wednesday in Edmonton.

If Hornqvist was unable to play Thursday, expect Joe Thornton to get back into the lineup after sitting out the past four.

Jonathan Huberdeau took four shots on goal and and had six attempts but did not find the scoresheet in the loss — ending his remarkable eight-game point streak in which he set a franchise record with 20 points.

Marchment and Verhaeghe had the assists on Bennett’s goal Tuesday.

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT EDMONTON OILERS

  • When: Thursday, 9 p.m.
  • Where: Rogers Place; Edmonton, AB
  • Tickets: CLICK HERE
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
  • Last season: Did not play 
  • All-time regular season series: Edmonton leads 20-13-0, 3 ties

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