As the Florida Panthers make a run to the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, they only have 11 games remaining.
They wasted one on Tuesday night especially with two of the top teams in the NHL coming to Sunrise in the coming days.
The Panthers, who saw their seven-game point streak end with a 6-3 loss to the host Philadelphia Flyers, will take Wednesday off as they gear up for a big couple of games beginning Thursday against Toronto.
Following the Maple Leafs is a visit from the New York Rangers — a team the Panthers have not fared well against the past two seasons.
”They were playing quick on us and we’re going to go through moments like that,” said Sam Reinhart, who pulled the Panthers within a pair of goals in the third on Tuesday. “It is not easy losing at this time of year, but we have been on a pretty good run. It is almost good to lose and learn from it, move on from it.”
Regardless of the standings or the opponents, the Panthers know they can only sustain so many losses among their final games if they want to make the playoffs.
Talk about back-to-back games or who was or was not in the lineup all you want, but losing to this Philadelphia team feels like a lost opportunity.
To be blunt, one of the losses Florida can afford to lose was wasted on the Flyers.’
”We lost the game and we move on,’’ coach Paul Maurice said. “We have been looking at the last 20 games with the idea that there will be losses. We’ll get the heck out of here as fast as we can and get ready for the next one.’’
The Panthers came into the night holding the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, a position they could not lose what with the Penguins having the night off before playing Colorado on Wednesday.
Florida would not have overtaken the Islanders for the top wild card as New York beat the Maple Leafs on Tuesday. The Panthers did slide three points behind the Islanders for that spot with a game in hand.
In Philadelphia, the Panthers were playing without Sam Bennett (injury), Anthony Duclair (illness) and Sergei Bobrovsky (well-deserved night off) yet still jumped to a 1-0 lead on another Matthew Tkachuk goal just 1:15 into the game.
Aside from Brandon Montour tying the score at 2 with 5:43 left in the second, those were about all of the highlights of the night from the Florida side of things.
Philadelphia came into the night with losses in five of its past six but are by all accounts playing hard for John Tortorella despite (or due to) his recent comments about how the team needs to cut bait with some players moving forward.
The Flyers certainly were all-in on Tuesday night.
And, the Panthers looked a step slow.
With Carter Hart manning the Philadelphia nets, that was not a good combination.
The Panthers ended up throwing 44 shots on goal and had 84 attempted shots.
“We had, by far, enough offense to win that hockey game,” Maurice said. “They finished on the (chances) they had and we spent most of the time on their end of the ice. … The best player on the ice was their goaltender.’’
Aside from Tkachuk and Montour, Florida got its other goal from Sam Reinhart while holding a two-skater advantage with goalie Alex Lyon spending a lot of the final seven minutes of the game on the bench.
Philadelphia got its sixth goal into said empty net.
“They capitalized on the chances that they had,” Montour said. “It was tough to come back like that every game but we had our chances in the third. We will move on to the next one. … We are not going to win every game. They are a team on the outside but we want that one back. We lose and we go the next. That has to be the mindset.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 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
- Season Series (Toronto leads 1-0): Maple Leafs 5, Panthers 4 OT (Jan. 17)
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Toronto leads 46-35-7, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: New York Rangers at Florida, Saturday, 5 p.m.