SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers continued their offensive dry spell in a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
Florida is 1-4-0 in its past five games and has scored just seven goals in that span.
Five of those goals came in their lone win at Edmonton on Saturday.
If it wasn’t for a wacky bounce via an Eetu Luostarinen dump-in attempt, the Panthers would have been tabbed with their third shutout in 10 days.
“When you are in situations like this, it is important to stay together,” Aaron Ekblad said.
“It is important to not get frustrated with each or with the game. Our team game is a defense-first game and that is something we will have to stick with, and then we will find our way out of this.”
Even with the team’s shift to a defensively-sound identity, a stretch like this is highly uncharacteristic for the Panthers.
They were shutout just once last season and were held to a goal or fewer in eight games last season.
This season, they have been tabbed with four shutouts and nine games with a goal or fewer through just 32 games.
It’s not for a lack of trying, however.
They have had the third most scoring chances in the NHL (235) since Dec. 8, but many of which have been forced off the rush.
“Yeah, we had a bunch of chances,” Paul Maurice said. “But that has nothing to do with what happened in the game.
“It started to creep in around the Pittsburgh game. We have been trying to do so much off the rush now that you put yourself in that position. Did they have a lot of chances? No. But the ones that they have are worse. It’s not equal. The number doesn’t matter if the quality is different.”
That epitomized what happened in Thursday night’s game against the Blues.
Florida led 36-19 in total scoring chances but St. Louis capitalized on their five high-danger chances in a way that the Panthers could not on their 18.
”It’s a really good example of why you can’t play a rush game,” Maurice said. “Because you don’t have to give up a lot.
“And I am not looking at Sergei Bobrovsky on any of them because they are all turnovers at the line because we want to play the rush game.”
That was the case in the second period.
Brandon Montour turned the puck over with a sloppy pass in the neutral zone which led to a 3-on-1.
Jordan Kyrou finished off a smooth passing play to give the Blues a 1-0 lead 4:50 into the second.
Pavel Buchnevich stripped Gus Forsling of the puck near the blue line and converted on the rush to make it a 2-0 game 7:46 into the second.
St. Louis’ third goal came via an Oliver Ekman-Larsson stretch pass which Brandon Saad easily intercepted.
Point is, then the Panthers find themselves down in games, they have started resorting to attempting to generate rush chances.
And it has not been working.
“We had a talk about getting pucks deep when we needed to and [the Blues] were stubborn. And good on them,” Maurice said.
“It’s understandable. We’re gonna crack three posts and we are missing a bunch and they’re squeezing it but it’s not going for you. Which is fine. You can lose games tight, you can lose game where you get a few breaks around the net that you don’t like, but we can’t lose a game like that.”
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Saturday, 3 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, WPOW 96.5 FM2, WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
- Season Series — At Florida: Saturday. At Vegas: Jan. 4.
- Last Regular Season: Even 1-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Golden Knights lead 6-3-1
- Postseason History — 2023 Stanley Cup Final: Vegas d. Florida 4-1
- Up Next for the Florida Panthers: Wednesday at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.