Panthers again struggle to score; Islanders win in shootout 3-2

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Another lead squandered. Another overtime, punctuated by another shootout loss. Another opportunity to maintain a somewhat tenuous divisional lead blown. Anyone else get the feeling things could start crashing down on the Florida Panthers right here on the precipice of the postseason? The Panthers managed to only post two goals yet again, and it came back to bite them as the New York Islanders were able to tie it up late in the third and win it in the shootout. Florida again showed their shootout futility, unable to beat Evgeni Nabokov once through three shooters. It's becoming a very disconcerting trend that the Panthers are also struggling to win games during the supposed "easy" stretch run here at the end of the season. Whether it's lack of effort, complacency or just nerves, the team has to settle down and start working hard and playing simple to get back on track and finish the season on top of the Southeast. With the Washington Capitals topping the Minnesota Wild 3-0 on Sunday, the Panthers won't stay on top of the division with poor efforts like this.

Additional coverage available at Lighthouse Hockey and SB Nation Florida



Scoring Summary

1st

2nd
3rd
OT
  • No scoring
Shootout

Observations

  • Far too much slow skating, standing around and observing the game for the Panthers. Not sure if the team is tired, but every other team in the NHL who is competing for a playoff spot and has played at least 75 games doesn't look as tired as Florida. No excuses.
  • Moulson's goal could've been prevented. Not really sure what the PK box was doing but it looked like everyone decided to look away as Moulson and Tavares played a little catch before Moulson smacked it by Theodore. That one was a bit of a head-scratcher to say the least.
  • Florida had several powerplay chances in this game and couldn't convert, though they came close. If they're going to keep this divisional lead throughout the rest of the season, the special teams have to be better. The PK let up a powerplay goal and the power play units weren't able to score on any of their chances.
  • Chris wrote a great article this week about the constant swapping of lines and healthy scratches, and how it's negatively affecting the team in terms of chemistry and teamwork. If you haven't read it yet, go read it now, and try to tell me that he's not completely spot on after watching the lack of chemistry of the lower lines.
  • Tavares is good. He will lead the Islanders to the playoffs sooner rather than later, make no mistake about that. His work ethic is close to his talent level and that bodes well for the Isles in the long term.
  • The Panther forwards, for whatever reason, tend to leave too much open ice in between themselves and the point men they're defending. I know it's common to try and take away the shooting lanes, which is a good thing, but to give some of these guys the kind of time and space they need to set up plays is not good.
  • He was pretty quiet most of the game, but Erik Gudbranson absolutely destroyed Jay Pandolfo along the boards. Best hit of the game and another sign of how physical he can be when the situation presents itself.
  • The Panthers seem to be skipping a lot of their basic tenets that made them earn that five game winning streak. Simple plays, safe plays and lots of shots. There's very little traffic in front, there's a lot of bad passes up the middle or across the entire rink. Too many drop passes in the offensive zone, too much "creativity" with the puck. Simple is better for this squad.
  • He can be a rambling loony at times, but am I the only one that thinks Billy Lindsay could coach?

First Star
Tomas Fleischmann and Jose Theodore. Flash because he was an offensive catalyst all game, and Theodore because he bailed out the Panthers countless times. I wonder if he's getting sick of that? Somewhere, Tomas Vokoun is nodding at my words.

Worst Star
The Panthers coaching staff. Keep the same lineup, keep the lines pretty similar (except the VFW line). It's pretty hard to develop chemistry when you're playing with new guys every other game.

Up Next
Yet another "easy" game, as the Panthers travel to Montreal to face off against the worst team in the East. We'll see how bad they are on Tuesday night and if the Panthers can wake up as their playoff position starts to dwindle. Something to pay attention to: the Capitals and Buffalo Sabres play each other that night, likely for the 8th seed in the East.
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