The Panthers looked tired after playing three games in four nights and the host St. Louis Blues took full advantage, breaking down the Florida defense off the rush multiple times in a 6-2 win on Tuesday night.
Florida came into the night 1-2-2 in the second game off a back-to-back and 0-2-2 when playing the back half on the road — and those numbers certainly did not improve Tuesday.
St. Louis took aim at a rusty Spencer Knight as he made his first start in 37 days, beating him glove side on three occasions during the second period to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
That lead would have been 4-0, but Justin Faulk’s glove-side trickler with 5:10 to go in the second period was waved off because of a missed stoppage in play.
It was ruled that Robert Thomas played the puck with a high stick before the goal. Florida challenged it and won, keeping the score manageable.
Eetu Luostarinen brought the Panthers back within a goal late in the period but the Blues struck back with two third-period goals against a tired Panthers team to sink them in the end.
Sam Bennett left with 5:15 to go in the second period and did not return to the bench for the third period.
With the loss, the Panthers remain two points behind the Washington Capitals for what is effectively the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Penguins are one point behind Washington going into a late-night clash with the San Jose Sharks but have four fewer games played.
Florida will have to recover quickly from this one with a critical clash with the Capitals on Thursday that will have a lot of playoff implications going forward.
GOALS OF THE GAME
- Blues 1, Panthers 0 (11:27, 1st, PPG): Brayden Schenn tipped a Torrey Krug shot that deflected off the boards, off of Spencer Knight’s skate and into the net.
- Blues 2, Panthers 0 (0:35, 2nd): Schenn beat Knight glove side on the rush for his second goal of the game.
- Blues 3, Panthers 0 (12:51, 2nd): Nick Leddy beat Knight high glove side off the rush.
- Blues 3, Panthers 1 (18:44, 2nd) Matthew Tkachuk stripped the puck from a Blues defender and found Eetu Luostainen in front, who finished it off with a wrist shot.
- Blues 4, Panthers 1 (9:28, 3rd): Ryan O’Reilly tipped a Pavel Buchnevich shot past Knight off the rush.
- Blues 5, Panthers 1 (9:48, 3rd): Jordan Kyrou finished off a one-timer from Robert Thomas.
- Blues 5, Panthers 2 (13:27, 3rd): Carter Verhaeghe rifles a wrist shot through traffic past Jordan Binnington from above the face-off circle.
- Blues 6, Panthers 2 (17:12, 3rd): Ivan Barbashev empty-net goal.
COLBY’S THREE STARS OF THE NIGHT
1. Brayden Schenn, St. Louis (two goals)
2. Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis (goal, assist)
3. Jordan Binnington, St. Louis (win)
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT WASHINGTON CAPITALS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
- 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
- Last season: Panthers won 2-1 (d. Capitals 4-2 in first round)
- This season (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 5, Capitals 2 (Nov. 15)
- All-time regular season series: Washington leads 67-44-12, 9 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at Nashville, 2 p.m.