The Florida Panthers did not lose Tuesday night’s game in the third period.
No, this one was long gone before that.
In what will go down as the worst game the team has played all season, Sergei Bobrovsky surrendered three goals in the first period and the Panthers never recovered as the Calgary Flames celebrated Matthew Tkachuk Night at the Saddledome with a 6-2 win.
”It is tough to dig a hole like that, especially on back-to-backs,’’ Paul Maurice said.
It certainly was a “grass is not always greener” moment for Flames fans who serenaded Tkachuk in the final minutes with a chant that Jonathan Huberdeau is better.
Anyway, this was a dog of a game by the Panthers all the way around.
If you want to blame fatigue for this one, it should be noted the team was forced to play three games in four nights with a six-hour flight to western Canada on their “off day.”
The Panthers certainly looked gassed after coughing up not one but two third-period leads in losses to St. Louis on Saturday and in Edmonton on Monday.
Playing without captain Sasha Barkov certainly does not help as the Panthers are now 0-2-2 without him in the lineup this season.
But the weight on Tuesday night’s loss will fall on the shoulders of Bobrovsky who simply was not good enough to keep the Panthers in this game.
A goalie’s job is done when he gives his team a chance to win a game but this one was never really in doubt.
Calgary did nothing really special yet whenever it moved into the offensive zone — and the Flames did not set up all that often — they usually scored.
If anyone on the Panthers was well rested it was Bobrovsky who had not played since losing in Columbus 10 days prior.
Spencer Knight will be back in net Thursday against Vancouver and probably Saturday in Seattle as well.
If Bobrovsky wanted to get back into the Panthers’ goalie playing rotation, this did not help.
The Panthers will now have Wednesday off before playing the Canucks on Thursday night.
Florida has lost three consecutive games and seven of its past nine — going 2-4-3 in the process.
Bobrovsky’s play not only early but into the second period did not do the Panthers any favors.
For the fourth time in his past six starts, Bobrovsky gave up four goals or more; he gave up six goals on 23 shots Tuesday for a 74 percent success rate.
Calgary scored a shorthanded goal on its first shot on goal of the night following an Aaron Ekblad turnover and had a 3-0 lead with 7:57 left in the opening period.
The Flames had taken a grand total of five shots on goal at the time.
”I didn’t think we were overwhelmed in the first, we were just down three,’’ Maurice said.
Florida did make it 3-1 on a Nick Cousins goal. After another misplayed puck by Bobrovsky, the Panthers trailed 4-1 before Sam Reinhart drove in and beat Dan Vladar with a wrister from 25 feet out.
The Panthers got no closer.
Calgary ended things late in the third, scoring twice within a three-minute span.
Not a good night by any metric.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE NIGHT
1. Jonathan Huberdeau, Calgary (goal, assist)
2. MacKenzie Weegar, Calgary (100th NHL assist)
3. Rasmus Andersson, Calgary (goal, assist)
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT VANCOUVER CANUCKS
- When: Thursday, 10 p.m.
- Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver
- TV: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 2-0
- All-time regular season series: Vancouver leads 18-11-4, 6 ties