SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers were gassed on Sunday night and it showed in their 5-2 loss to the Seattle Kraken.
Florida had just come off a loss in Tampa the previous night and have had illness run through the locker room throughout the last couple of weeks.
The Panthers came out weak in the first period in both games and did not claw their way out of either.
Now they have lost their past two and three of four.
Things are not looking great for the Panthers right now.
“We did not move quick enough in our last two games to expect to win,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.
Matty Beniers took advantage of a rare Matthew Tkachuk miscue 1:04 into the game to put Seattle up early and it took until 7:34 of the second period for the Panthers to find an answer.
Eric Staal got his first goal as a member of the Panthers and celebrated like a man who had not scored an NHL goal in almost two years.
Any momentum Florida got out of it was wiped out 90 seconds later when Andre Burakovsky gave the Kraken a lead it would not give up.
Seattle controlled the game for the remainder of the period and Maurice decided to call a timeout with 6:45 left in the second period to try to give the team a jolt.
It did not work.
”I was trying to find some energy and clearly we did not have a whole lot,” Maurice said.
”We are usually a pretty fast team but we were not [tonight.] We couldn’t close the gap and we cannot get the puck moving. We had a quiet bench and you’d need to try to get a fire going and it just did not work.”
The message from Maurice was clear: limit the mistakes and get back to playing fast hockey.
”We needed to get quicker and we were feeding some of their turnover attacks,” Staal said.
”Our guys were trying to do the right thing. They were trying to make the play and they were trying to open it up and make something happen. Tonight was one of those games where there just was not anything out there. It was tough, it was grindy and we need to do a better job of spending more time in the offensive zone.”
Maurice’s stern words for his team during the timeout did not help matters much.
The Panthers sputtered out of the short break to end the second to no avail and Seattle was able to take advantage of a tired Florida team in the third period.
Jordan Eberle scored seconds after an unsuccessful Panthers power play expired 7:15 into the third period and frustration was obviously set in.
It all came to a head when Justin Schultz hit Ryan Lomberg with his stick while driving the net and the Panthers grinder did not take a liking to that.
He found Schultz near the boards and served a high hit of his own that sent the Kraken defenseman flying into the boards with 8:18 to go.
Schultz was slow to get up and skated to the Seattle locker room on his own power and Lomberg was given a five-minute major for boarding while each player got an additional two minutes for roughing.
The NHL will be looking at this hit for sure.
”The league will take a look at it and tell us what they saw,” Maurice said. “What I saw does not matter.”
Daniel Sprong cashed in on the long power play opportunity and sealed the game with a booming slap shot off a feed from Alexander Wennberg with 4:51 to go.
Yanni Gourde sealed the game with an empty-netter with just over two minutes to go while Chris Tierney scored his second goal in four games with a deflection of a Matt Kiersted shot in garbage time.
COLBY’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Matty Beniers, Seattle (goal, assist)
2. Andre Burakovsky, Seattle (goal, assist)
3. Yanni Gourde, Seattle (goal, assist)
PANTHERS ON DECK
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Season Series (Columbus leads 1-0): Blue Jackets 5, Panthers 3 (Nov. 20)
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 19-16-10