The Florida Panthers post All-Star Game slide continued as they were blanked 3-0 by the visiting Calgary Flames, playing in the last of a five-game road trip, to cap off a depressing weekend that also saw them fall to the mediocre Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout on Saturday.
Florida has inexplicably lost seventh-straight games on home ice, tying a franchise record, and are a woeful 5-10-2 since returning to action on February 1.
Ice-cold Brett Connolly made his presence known with an early tripping penalty and the Flames would cash in on its first power play of the afternoon when Johnny Gaudreau took a circle to circle crossing pass from Elias Lindholm and beat Sam Montembeault from the right side. The second assist on the goal, which was aided by newcomer Lucas Wallmark breaking his stick, went to defenseman Mark Giordano, who would pull helpers on all three Calgary goals.
Montembeault would later deny Gaudreau a second goal with a penalty shot save with 7:43 left in the frame after MacKenzie Weegar hooked the speedy forward on a breakaway.
The Panthers had a couple good chances to start the second with Weegar hitting the post and Cam Talbot coming up with a big stop on Dominic Toninato before the Flames would go up by two and essentially wrap things up early.
Milan Lucic was left alone in front and converted a quick backhand pass from Derek Ryan, who out-hustled Colton Sceviour and Mike Matheson to a puck behind the net at the 3:10 mark.
The Flames hammered the final nail into Florida’s coffin 1:09 into the final frame when TJ Brodie, after playing catch with Giordano, took a shot from just inside the blue line that found the back of the net.
Talbot, who finished the game with 38 saves, would turn aside all 12 Florida shots in the third to pick up his second clean sheet of the season.
Montembeault stopped 25 of 28 shots and fell to 5-5-1. The original plan was to start Sergei Bobrovsky, but he tweaked something during warm-ups.
The Panthers are now five points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs in the race (using the word race very loosely at this point) for third place in the Atlantic Division with each team having played 66 games.
Florida is also five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets, who currently hold down WC2.
At this point the playoffs seem like a pipe dream. While the Panthers gave a pretty decent effort, it doesn’t look like the trade of Vincent Trocheck has come close to providing the spark needed to shake the club out of its month-long slump and head coach Joel Quenneville is seemingly out of answers, while captain Aleksander Barkov continues to spew the same old, same old post-game nonsense about not pushing hard enough.
Tinder & Ash
- As mentioned above, Florida’s seven-game home losing streak (0-6-1) is tied for the longest in franchise history. The other seven-gamer happened between February 26 and March 24, 2003. With Boston up next on the homestand, we are likely to see a new record in futility set on Thursday.
- Jonathan Huberdeau (seven shots) and Mike Hoffman (six shots) tried hard to break Cam Talbot’s shutout, but couldn’t get the puck to go in.
- Speaking of Hoffman, his seven-game point-streak came to end. Florida managed to end Mikael Backlund’s six-game streak.
- Elias Lindholm’s assist on Johnny Gaudreau’s game-opening goal was the 200th of his career. Gaudreau would earn a assist on TJ Brodie’s goal to finish the game with two points.
- This was the third time the Cats have been shutout this season with three all coming in this ugly 18-game span after the All-Star break. Montreal and Columbus were the other teams to whitewash the Panthers.
- For more on the Flames win which completed the season series sweep, stop by Matchsticks and Gasoline.