CORAL SPRINGS — Before scoring a goal in the third period on Tuesday night, Colin White had a pretty rough run with the Florida Panthers.
Not only had White not scored a goal since Nov. 20, but his last assist came back on Dec. 11.
Despite being sick the night before, when the Panthers needed him to go back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for five games, he jumped at the chance to get back on the ice.
“It felt good just to get back out there, I kept it simple and was lucky enough to get a goal there,” said White, whose goal gave the Panthers a 5-4 lead in their eventual 7-6 overtime loss to the Penguins.
“I felt really good and that gave me some confidence and I thought I played really well after that.
“It was hard. You really do lose confidence. You come to the rink every day wanting to work on something different and sometimes it feels like nothing is working. You almost have to take a step back to take a step forward. I just wanted to come to the rink every day with a good attitude.”
That said, it is not known whether White gets a chance to play again on Friday against the Los Angeles Kings is up in the air.
Coach Paul Maurice said one reason why he pulled White in the first place was to get Grigori Denisenko in the lineup — and the rookie forward has looked solid although he has two assists in his six games since coming back up from Charlotte.
White was back in the lineup on Tuesday because Sam Bennett was unavailable but both he and Eric Staal are expected to return against the Kings.
“Sometimes that is part of that job,” Maurice said. “He went a long stretch of playing OK hockey, he was playing fine. He was not causing any problems but was not finding the net or chipping in much offensively.
“But the two games prior, he played exceptionally well with Lomberg and Smith. It was a great line. But we got healthier, I wanted to give Denisenko some time there. So he got pulled. But he had to rally for that (Pittsburgh) game. Good on him.”
Regardless of whether White is in the lineup tonight, he does hope the worst stretch of his season is truly behind him.
In November, White was being looked at as another successful reclamation project by the Panthers.
White came to Florida as a free agent a few days after he was suddenly being let go by the Ottawa Senators.
The 21st overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft out of Boston College, White scored what remains a career-high 14 goals with 41 points during the 2018-19 season leading the Senators to sign him to a six-year contract worth just over $4 million per.
After scored 10 goals during the 2021 shortened season, White sustained a major shoulder injury before last season even began, and, after months of rehab, returned in February and ended up with three goals and 10 points in 24 games.
The Senators made major changes in the offseason — and bought out the final three years of White’s contract.
He signed with the Panthers on a one-year, ‘prove-it’ deal and started his season up in the top-6, scoring five goals with 11 points during the first six weeks.
Everything was looking up.
Until, of course, it wasn’t.
From his goal in Columbus on Nov. 20 until scoring in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, White went 22 games without one. He also went 12 games without a single point.
Thursday morning, White was smiling and seemingly in a much better mood — as if a giant weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
”When things are not going good, it is tough and you will try anything,” White said. “You just have to take a deep breath and relax. I came here because I want to be a part of something big and were a few points out of a playoff spot with two massive games coming up. This is huge for us going into the break.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
LOS ANGELES KINGS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: 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: Los Angeles won 2-0
- This season — Los Angeles leads 1-0: Kings 5, Panthers 4 (Nov. 5)
- All-time regular season series: Los Angeles leads 24-14-0, 3 ties