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The Consistently Inconsistent Florida Panthers Continue to Frustrate

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Nashville Predators center Philip Tomasino tries to deflect a puck past Florida Panthers goaltender Spencer Knight in Saturday’s game. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

The Florida Panthers left Nashville for home on Saturday afternoon after polishing off a four-game road trip.

The Panthers went 2-2 on the trip, alternating great effort and strong performances with lackluster showings on the backend.

After opening with a hard-fought win in Minnesota, the Panthers did not do much in St. Louis against a team which is selling parts off for futures.

Blame that one on “running out of gas” or “not having anything left in the tank” as coach Paul Maurice put it, but a bad loss is still just that.

On Thursday, the Panthers showed what they could do when they got a must-win game against the Washington Capitals to pull themselves into a virtual tie in the playoff race.

Then came Saturday.

Disappointing does not begin to describe that 7-3 loss to the Predators.

Hey, break out the thesaurus for this one: How about disheartening, depressing, discouraging or disconcerting?

They all fit the bill as once again, the Panthers did not have much going in a game they needed to win — and should have won.

”We need better than this,” Ryan Lomberg said.

Nashville came into the day with losses in three of four and wisely put more weight in Sunday’s game against the Wild — a team it is battling for a playoff spot — as backup goalie Kevin Lankinen played instead of All-Star Jusse Sarros.

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Both the Blues and Predators were ripe for the picking. Instead, the Panthers got blown out to the tune of 13-5.

Not good.

”Getting out of the gate, it was a one-goal game, but both teams were really struggling to get going,” Maurice said Saturday afternoon. “The game got away from us. … It was ugly and it is over.”

If the Panthers end up falling short when it comes to making the playoffs this year, there are many examples of games the team should have won and did not; losses to Chicago, Arizona and Columbus early in the season certainly top the list.

But this week’s trip certainly will be up there.

These four games were an opportunity to get at least six points — seven would have been nice, and probably should have been expected considering the competition — yet the Panthers only got four.

They did themselves no favors when it comes to the postseason chase as they squandered a very big opportunity.

Again.

”We just were not hard enough from the start,” said Matthew Tkachuk, who gave Florida its only lead at 2-1 in the first. “Gave away too many goals. We definitely did not start the game the way we would like that’s for sure.”

The Panthers come home now, a place they will be for the foreseeable future.

If there is any silver lining to come out of this week is that the Panthers’ long road trips are, for the most part, done.

Saturday’s game was the last one outside the eastern time zone with 14 of the final 23 coming in Sunrise.

There are plenty of points remaining for Florida to get but to do so, it will not only have to beat the teams below them in the standings — but the Panthers also have no margin of error with some of the league’s heavyweights like Toronto, Carolina and the Rangers upcoming.

”It’ll be nice to play at home,” Tkachuk said, “but it will be way nicer to run the table at home. We have put unfortunately put ourselves in position to where we have to do it now.

“At this point there is still the expectation that we’re making a push, that we’re still right there. We have a lot of games we have to take care of. We can’t wait.”

Remember, the Panthers have only won three consecutive games once this season.

The only things this team has done consistently throughout this season is be inconsistent.

Winning one and losing one is not going to get the Panthers into the playoffs.

Winning two and losing one will not do it either.

”There is no time to settle anymore, we need to go here,” Lomberg said. “We’re excited to get back down south and go to work.”

PANTHERS ON DECK

ANAHEIM DUCKS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Monday, 1 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; NHL Network
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5 FM-2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Season Series (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 5, Ducks 3 (Nov. 6)
  • Last season: Florida won 2-0
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 20-14-2, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Buffalo at Florida, Friday, 7 p.m.

 

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