Florida Panthers' Late Comeback Falls Short As Carolina Hurricanes Hang On For 3-2 Victory

USA TODAY Sports

Battered and bruised Cats offer little resistance as Canes sweep home-and-home weekend series, their first road division win.

In some respects, it's becoming more difficult to find specific reasons for why the Panthers lose. While the Florida Panthers are seemingly always deficient on defense and shaky in net, it's becoming expected at this point in the season; mistakes aren't nearly as dramatic as they should be. What you're witnessing is a team that had trouble competing to begin with struggle to make up for injuries and general lack of leadership. The Panthers simply can't keep up with teams who know better than to be lulled into Florida's sleepy trap game.

Tonight the loss can't be pinned on any particular player or position, but rather a perfectly coordinated lack of skill and effort by the entire team. There are a few players on the Panthers that make things interesting each night and the future is as bright as ever; but winning with the current collection of players would take a Herculean effort and literally no mistakes. Without either of those conditions being met, the Panthers are destined to stumble to the trade deadline, dump some players and coast to the nearest golf course. Despite a possible comeback in the works, the Panthers just don't have the power to outwork a tightened defense and a team who wants the two points more.

Jacob Markstrom is expected to be the answer to all of the Panthers problems, but Markstrom can't play defense and score goals. Let's just hope that placing him on a sinking ship doesn't cost his confidence.

Observations:

  • Big news broke in the pregame as a darkhorse emerged in the Florida Panthers goalie race, an upstart 39 year old free agent named Robb Tallas. With Jacob Markstrom's equiptment stuck in air transit limbo the Panthers goalie coach would have to take shots in the warmup and back up Scott Clemmensen. With the running joke the Panthers season has become, who didn't want to see a scenario would have to log some minutes Brian Foster style. Marky would replace him on the bench near the end of the first period.
  • Nolan Yonkman would make his season(bench) debut with the Panthers, but wouldn't see playing time in the first period. Beginning in the second he'd catch a few garbage shifts. The San Antonio barrel of defensemen is running dry.
  • Florida would start the game looking pretty good(comparatively) against the Canes to start out the game, which is about as surprising as it gets when you consider they were defending in front of Clemmensen. It's nice to see some energy out of a team that looks out of breath every single game. I guess they're sick of not having a backup goalie to fall back on when their mistakes become innumerable.
  • Shawn Matthias was flying through the first period after scoring in the 6-2 blowout the night before. Perhaps he plays up to his new linemates and the extra minutes.
  • Something is seriously wrong with the forwards not named Huberdeau, Matthias, Shore, Kopecky and Skille. They do not play defense, they barely forecheck, back check, check, or skate. I understand why the forwards are the third tier of blame on any given night, but if the goaltending and defense ever get sorted out it's not like the Panthers will suddenly start winning regularly. The forwards are anything but dynamic, and the lack of effort isn't hidden to me.
  • Good on Dineen for keeping Clemmensen in net for the start of the second period. Neither of the two quick Hurricanes goals at the end of the first were directly Clemmensen's fault, and while the starting position is for Markstrom to take as he pleases; he isn't the de facto starter with two games under his belt. It has to be a fair fight, and pulling a goalie with two goals against isn't fair.
  • Putting Strachan out with Kuba is about as bad of a nightmare as you can dream. Incredible positioning by Kuba and zero help from the forwards as Strachan pressured Jeff Skinner allowed for Jordan Staal to jump in front of the net and send a quick shot through Clemmensen. Simply unreal.
  • If anyone wonders what life without Weiss would look like, you're already seeing it. Weiss should try to market whatevers making him invisible after his playing days are over.
  • Scary moment as Cam Ward first stays down after a Skille-Faulk collision into the net followed by what looked like a pull or sprain after making a save. Not sure what exactly happened, but he wouldn't return. The ailing Dan Ellis made an admirable return to BB&T ice only allowing one goal against.
  • Jonathan Huberdeau would put the Panthers on the board by burying a pretty cross ice feed from Mueller, giving the Panthers a little life as they headed into the third. Huberdeau extends his goal lead to two over Tampa Bay's own Calder candidate, Cory Conacher. Mueller and Huberdeau would again connect with 55 seconds left, moving him up to 15 points in 22 games.
  • If you don't miss Mike Weaver already, you will when the Panthers have a one goal lead in the final two minutes and the opposing team pulls their goalie. If that ever happens again.
  • Find your Hurricanes recap over at Canes Country.

The Panthers will play their 3rd straight Southeast division game on Tuesday when they take on the surprise runner up for the division lead, the Winnipeg Jets. Well, maybe surprising isn't a good word since the Southeast division is equivalent to a Thurday night beer league. Not even a Friday night beer league, a Thursday nighter. Who knows what will happen in this game? One thing is for sure though; it will be terrible hockey, but tune in anyways! Futuristic Flying Machines at Swamp Felines, 7:30.

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