SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers have played some exciting, high-flying and hard-hitting games through their first 27 games of this season. Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators certainly was not one of them.
In fact, the Panthers have not looked worse this season than they did in a 8-2 loss to the Senators.
Think back to when they looked as casually bad as they did Tuesday?
OK, Florida looked pretty bad in a four-goal loss to the New Jersey Devils last month, but that was on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.
That was better than whatever Tuesday night was.
Save for a flight home from Denver on Monday, the Panthers really don’t have much of an excuse for what transpired on Tuesday.
I believe Ottawa did have to fly in from Canada — and had to deal with customs.
So, there’s that.
The Panthers need to hope this was one of those this-happens-to-every-good-team kind of games and does not become some sort of trend.
Because Ottawa, despite winning five of its past six, is definitely not in Florida’s league.
The Panthers are now 14-2-0 on home ice with wins here against some of the best teams in the NHL.
Florida has beaten the Capitals, Rangers and Hurricanes in Sunrise.
Their two losses? Ottawa and the expansion Kraken.
Those two have 40 points. Combined. Which is what Florida has in 28 games on its own.
The biggest concern for the Panthers on Tuesday wasn’t their slow play, their inattentiveness nor even their lackadaisical overall game.
Again, these things happen during an 82-game season especially in the first game coming off a road trip.
The power play is now officially of concern to the Panthers.
It is not good. Has not been for some time.
The Panthers went scoreless on six power play chances to go 3-26 since the month started.
Florida actually created more offensive chances in the first minute of a penalty kill than in their first three with the man advantage.
The Panthers also had a 5-on-3 chance in the third that went nowhere. Florida was down three at the time but a quick goal — with the power play continuing — could have been a game-changer.
Instead, Ottawa killed off the penalty and scored its sixth goal of the night off Spencer Knight.
Ottawa, a team which had 17 points coming in, went to the third period holding a 4-2 lead after scoring three on the Panthers — including a shorthanded goal — in the second.
The Sens, who to be fair had won four of their previous five against some pretty good competition, took the initial lead when Austin Watson scored at 4:38 of the first.
Ottawa was outshooting the Panthers 8-0 to that point.
After Florida flubbed away its first power play chance, Jonathan Huberdeau tied the score at 13:01 as he took a sweet backhanded feed from Sam Reinhart.
Reinhart eventually tied the score at 2 in the second period (following Ottawa’s shorty to further insult Florida’s poor power play) by sweeping in a Carter Verhaeghe rebound.
Ottawa ended up scoring the final two goals of the second, the first coming after play resumed and was awarded following a review at Hockey Central in Toronto.
Josh Norris’ shot initially was ruled a save for Knight, but review showed the puck came all the way across and it was 3-2.
Just over a minute later, Tim Stutzle made it 4-2 and the Panthers were on their heels.
The Panthers have had some fantastic third-period comebacks and Ottawa looked ripe to be another victim of the “Comeback Cats.”
And, just like that, they weren’t.
Ottawa made it 5-2 a mere 23 seconds into the third from Josh Norris and that was about all the Sens wrote.
Wait, Ottawa made it 6-2 at 6:10 of the third.
Adding insult to injury, the Senators tagged on two power play goals in the final portion of the third.
It was ugly from the start — and didn’t get any better.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Josh Norris, Ottawa
2. Nick Paul, Ottawa
3. Drake Batherson, Ottawa
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
LOS ANGELES KINGS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- WHEN: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WQAM 560
- Last season: Did not play