October 31, 2014

NO GHOST IN SUNRISE: Flyers return South Florida's Gostisbehere to minors


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, a native of Pembroke Pines, won't get to play in front of his family and friends Saturday at BB&T Center after all.
The first South Florida raised player to appear in the NHL, Gostisbehere was sent back to Philadelphia's AHL team after Friday's workout in Sunrise.
Gostisbehere, 21, made his NHL debut last Saturday.
"I knew it was coming," Gostisbehere told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It was nothing I didn't expect. I mean, it's going to happen. I'm a young guy. .-.-. My time will come."

 


INJURIES MOUNT: Panthers to recall two from San Antonio with Pirri, Bolland, Bergenheim and Barkov hurt

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Panthers haven't had to deal with injury issues very much this season but that all changed on Thursday.
Three players were hurt during Florida's 2-1 victory over Arizona including Brandon Pirri who suffered a concussion after taking an elbow to the head from Keith Yandle.
Pirri, Sean Bergenheim (lower body), Aleksander Barkov (lower body) and Dave Bolland (groin) all missed Friday's practice in Coral Springs. Bolland will miss his fifth straight game Saturday.
Due to the injuries, Florida is expected to recall center Vincent Trocheck and winger Rocco Grimaldi. Grimaldi, who spent the past three seasons at the University of North Dakota, could make his NHL debut against the Flyers.
"Things happen but fortunately for us, we're getting deeper,'' Tallon said. "We have good, young assets in the minors and have some guys here now. It takes at least 30 guys and in our case over the years even more. We're not going to lose guys for a long time so we're fine.''
Said coach Gerard Gallant: "We've been healthy all year and now we just need to keep moving on. There's no excuses. We have guys who can come up and play for us.''
Saturday: Flyers at Panthers
When, where: 7 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM 560
The series: Philadelphia leads 46-30-7
Noteworthy: Former Lightning star Vinny Lecavalier will be back in the Flyers' lineup after missing the past seven games with an injured left ankle. Lecavalier has 71 points off 27 goals in 81 games against the Panthers.

 

 

STAYING PUT: Aaron Ekblad to play in ninth game Saturday, should remain with Florida Panthers

 

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Aaron Ekblad will play in his ninth NHL game on Saturday night and what the Panthers will do afterward is the worst kept secret in town.
Although the team has the option of sending Ekblad back to his junior team in Canada following Saturday's game, the 18-year-old defenseman isn't going anywhere.
General manager Dale Tallon wouldn't come right out and say that Ekblad will remain with the Panthers for the remainder of the season on Friday, but he made it clear that he has no other plans for the top pick in the 2014 draft.
"He really picked up his game once the season started,'' Tallon said. "He's a gamer and boy, he's been very good. He's been a big part of our solid defense. We'll decide after [Saturday] but obviously it looks pretty good for him. He's played junior a long time and he's a man now. It probably doesn't make any sense for him to go back. There's a good chance he's going to be here.''
Ekblad has been living in a Coral Springs hotel with a handful of teammates since training camp although he'll start looking for more permanent living arraignments soon.
The Panthers have relied on Ekblad a lot this season as through the first eight games, he has logged over 20 minutes a night in every game since the opener in Tampa.
Despite that, Ekblad says he's not looking ahead and is taking Saturday's game as any other.
On Friday, Buffalo sent Sam Reinhart -- who was picked second behind Ekblad -- back to his junior team after his nine-game stint.
"I think I'm playing well right now,'' Ekblad said. "I have some great guys to lean on and I feel good. I've been playing some important situations, getting every opportunity. Obviously it's something in the back of my mind, but they'll tell me soon.''
Brian Campbell has been paired up with Ekblad since the start of the season and the two have played extremely well together.
Campbell leads the Panthers in ice time with an average of 24:01 per night and Ekblad isn't far behind averaging 21:56 -- fourth-most on the team and second-most among all NHL rookies.
Campbell says no one on the Panthers expects anything less than having Ekblad around for the remainder of the season and due to Ekblad's play, no one has even thought about the NHL's nine-game 'try-out' rule as it applies to Ekblad's situation.
If Florida were to send Ekblad back to junior hockey, he would still have three years left on his entry level contract. When he plays in his tenth game Tuesday in Boston, Ekblad's contract officially kicks in.
"What's the point in even talking about it anymore? After the second game you kind of knew it was a non-issue,'' Campbell said.
"This ninth game thing isn't a big deal in his case. He's been great, really good. I never saw him play before but he has surprised me a little in how good he is. Wait until he's 21 or 22. It's pretty obvious we made the right move in taking him.''
Said coach Gerard Gallant: "We haven't really talked about it. The kid has been playing over 20 minutes, playing every situation. I didn't expect him to be as good as he is at this level. He may have some ups and downs later in the season, I don't know, but so far after eight games it's been all positive. The kid has been outstanding.''

 

October 30, 2014

DOGGING IT: Panthers get goals from Pirri and Upshall, great goaltending from Luongo in 2-1 win over Coyotes

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Scottie Upshall wasn't happy about getting a penalty in the third period Thursday night -- but he wouldn't be upset for long.
Tomas Kopecky fed Upshall as he popped out of the penalty box and he beat goalie Mike Smith to propel the Panthers to a 2-1 victory at BB&T Center.
The goal was the first of the season for Upshall and it came minutes after he was flagged for charging Michael Stone.
The Panthers, who have gone 3-0-2 in their past five, are still struggling to score but Upshall and Brandon Pirri's goals -- with more terrific goaltending from Roberto Luongo -- was enough.
"It was a hard play but it wasn't dirty,'' said Upshall, who was charged moments after officials let Keith Yandle's hit on Pirri (one in which his head was separated from his helmet) go.
"I'll take a penalty like that if I know our [penalty kill] is going to stand up like it did and I'm going to get one coming out of the box. You always wonder in the back mind what you will do if the puck comes to you there. Kopecky made a great pass, got me on one like that last year too.''
Florida's offense, which came into the night with a league-low 10 goals in a league-fewest seven games, has given Luongo very little support.
In five of the first eight games, the Panthers have scored one goal or fewer. In seven of eight, Florida has scored two or less.
"We got just enough,'' said Gerard Gallant, who won his first home game as coach of the Panthers. "We got timely goals, created a lot of chances and hit a post and missed a wide open net. We could have scored four or five [Thursday]. Two was good enough fortunately.''
Even playing Arizona -- which was tied for 25th in the league for most goals surrendered -- couldn't cure Florida's scoring ills.
In back-to-back games against the Coyotes, the Panthers scored just three goals.
Arizona's average -- not factoring in the Panthers -- is 4.42 goals allowed per game.
On Thursday, Luongo once again had to keep the Panthers in the game until the offense caught up.
"We're battling hard right now,'' said Luongo, who stopped 32 of 33 shots. "We're not scoring many goals, but that's OK. If we can keep working our systems, we're going to have a chance. The goals will come eventually.''
The Coyotes, fresh off Tuesday's 7-3 loss in Tampa, didn't offer up a lot of offense against Luongo (39 saves on Saturday) early on.
Arizona did take the initial lead with 2:33 left in the opening period as Martin Hanzal deflected a shot from Oliver Ekman-Larsson past Luongo on a power play chance.
Ekman-Larsson beat the Panthers with a power play goal in overtime on Saturday.
Pirri, who now has three goals in the past three games, continues to force himself into the lineup as he tied the score by whipping a pass from Jussi Jokinen past goalie Mike Smith (24 saves).
In the third, Derek MacKenzie knocked down the puck in the closing seconds of the Upshall penalty. Kopecky found Upshall bounding out of the box and Upshall worked in on Smith and put a backhander past.
After that, it was all Luongo.
"I heard the bench [yell] after the penalty ended,'' Kopecky said. "I just waited for him to come out. It was a no-brainer and he made a nice move. Great goal for us.''
-- The announced crowd at Thursday's game was 7,691 just a touch better than the 7,311 from Florida's previous home game against Ottawa on Oct. 13.
The Ottawa crowd was the smallest for a home game in franchise history; Thursday's was second-smallest.
-- Upshall's goal gave the Panthers the lead on home ice for the first time this season. Florida trailed New Jersey 5-0 before MacKenzie scored in the home opener and Ottawa shut Florida out 1-0.
"It felt good, felt good to play a solid 60 minute game,'' Upshall said. "Everyone stayed in the game. There were no lapses.''
-- Center Aleksander Barkov left in the third period Thursday with what Gallant called a lower body injury. The seriousness of Barkov's injury wasn't known.

 

October 25, 2014

PENALTIES HURT PANTHERS: Cats face down eight power plays, lost two in 2-1 loss to Coyotes ... Panthers still get six of eight points on trip


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
GLENDALE, Arizona -- For the past few days, Panthers coach Gerard Gallant has stressed to his team that they had the chance to turn a good road trip a great one.
Thanks to a rash of penalties, it will just remain a pretty good one.
Saturday night's 2-1 overtime loss to the host Coyotes was one in which Florida players watched a good portion from their spot in the penalty box. Arizona scored its goals on its sixth and eighth power play chance of the night with Oliver Ekman-Larsson winning it in overtime as Aleksander Barkov sat helplessly in the box.
The Panthers still ended up going 2-0-2 on the trip, getting six of an available eight points.
"We have to stop taking those penalties,'' Gallant said. "It's something that's happening a lot. When you take eight, you're going to get snakebit on it and that's what happened in the end.''
Florida once again got great goaltending from Roberto Luongo as he made 39 saves to help Florida pick up points on a lengthy four-game jaunt that had stopovers in Buffalo, Washington, Denver and the Arizona desert.
The Panthers have now picked up at least a point in all five of their road games this season.
"It's real positive as we got points in all the road games,'' Gallant said. "We played some good hockey teams. I'm disappointed in tonight but I'm not frustrated. Overall we had a great trip.''
The Coyotes appeared to take the first lead early in the second when B.J. Crombeen batted down a shot from Keith Yandle.
Crombeen brought his stick up above the crossbar, however, before knocking the puck past Luongo. After a lengthy review from hockey central in Toronto, the ruling on the ice was overturned and the game remained scoreless.
"That was all instincts,'' Crombeen said during the second intermission.
In the third, Florida grabbed the 1-0 advantage when Tomas Fleischmann corralled the puck behind the net and fed it to Brandon Pirri in the slot. Pirri made a nice move on Smith and shoveled a backhander right past him 1:47 into the period.
Arizona tied it on its sixth power play opportunity as Justin Hodgman scored in his first NHL game by burying a pass from Lauri Korpikoski while camped out on Luongo's right side.
The Coyotes continued to come at Luongo (19 of their shots came from the third period on) and won it when Sam Gagner fed Ekman-Larsson 2:20 into the extra session.
"It was a close one but penalties did us in,'' Luongo said. "It's frustrating when you lose. We have to be smarter. I don't know how many we took tonight, and we'll kill some, but in overtime a 4-on-3 is a tough kill. We weren't able to get the job done.''-- Dave Bolland (groin) missed his third straight game but says he hopes to play in Florida's next game -- at home against Arizona on Oct. 30.


 





SOUTH FLORIDA FIRST: Margate's Shayne Gostisbehere to make NHL debut tonight for Flyers


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

GLENDALE, Arizona -- Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere made history on Saturday night, becoming the first player born and raised in South Florida to appear in an NHL game.


The Pembroke Pines native was called up by the injury-riddled Philadelphia Flyers on Friday and was in the lineup at Wells Fargo Center against visiting Detroit.


Gostisbehere, a third-round pick out of Union College in 2012, grew up in Margate and played for the Junior Panthers at the team's training facility in Coral Springs before moving north.


By the time he was a teenager playing travel hockey, Gostisbehere was recruited to play at a prep school in Connecticut before eventually landing at Union College and helping lead the Dutchmen to the national championship last year.


After a few games in the minor leagues, Gostisbehere was summoned by the Flyers to help shore up their depleted defense.


"They told me just to keep in simple and just try to get some quality minutes," Gostisbehere told the Philadelphia Enquirer, adding his parents and grandparents were flying up from Florida to be at the game.


"I’m not looking too far ahead. I’m just taking this day by day. It’s new to me. I mean, being in the NHL is a lifelong dream for me ever since I laced up the skates for the first time."


Although Gostisbehere is the first to come up through the South Florida youth hockey system and reach the NHL, he isn't the first to have ties to the area.


Late Saturday night, the Panthers played the Coyotes and defenseman Connor Murphy -- the son of original Panther and former assistant coach Gord Murphy.


Connor Murphy took up skating in Coral Springs during his dad's time with the Panthers. Gord Murphy is now Gostisbehere's defensive coach in Philadelphia.


Arizona winger Sam Gagner was the first player with South Florida youth hockey ties to play in the NHL when he broke in with Edmonton in 2007.


Gagner, son of former Panthers center Dave Gagner (1997-99), took up hockey in Coral Springs as a youngster before moving back to Canada when his dad retired not long after being traded to Vancouver as part of the Pavel Bure deal.


Coincidentally, Bure was Gostisbehere's favorite player growing up.


Other NHL players with ties to South Florida are Carolina center Brody Sutter (who made his NHL debut on Oct. 16) and Winnipeg winger Adam Lowry (who made his debut Oct. 9 in Arizona).


Both had fathers who worked for the Panthers and started skating on South Florida ice.


Duane Sutter was Florida's head coach from 2000-02 and served in a number of capacities with the organization. Dave Lowry was an original member of the Panthers who played from 1993-97.


"We've seen this happen in other warm-weather markets starting after Wayne Gretzky went to California,'' Panthers' president Rory Babich said. "We've seen California players make it to the NHL and now you're seeing it from Florida. I think it's tremendous for hockey. We're going to continue to see that grow over the years.''


Here is the story from Philly.com on Gostisbehere from today's morning skate:

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/sports/flyers/Gostisbehere-hoping-to-make-special-moments-with-Flyers.html

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Flyers

 


October 24, 2014

EDITOR IN NET: Roberto Luongo takes over The Hockey News - for an issue

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

GLENDALE, Arizona -- The latest issue of the Hockey News is centered around the Panthers and the team has the guest editor to thank for that.
Goalie Roberto Luongo took over the famed hockey periodical in which he was on the cover, hosted an interview with Canadiens' goalie prospect Zach Fucale and added his own personal notes to different stories throughout the issue.
Adam Proteau wrote the centerpiece story on the Panthers' new management and players.
"They came to me with the idea and I thought it was pretty neat, something that hadn't been done before,'' Luongo said.
"I was really excited about it and I jumped on the opportunity. We did a few conference calls and they flew down during training camp and we banged it out. It's been getting good reviews. And anytime you get a chance to advertise the team, it's a good idea.''

 

PLAYING FOR A CONTRACT: Sean Bergenheim only one of Florida's pending free agents to score

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
GLENDALE, Arizona -- The Panthers were counting on substantial production from four players who likely would financially benefit from putting up big stats.
Through the first six games, only one of Florida's pending free agents has done so.
Sean Bergenheim is tied for the team lead with two goals. Scottie Upshall has just one assist while Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Fleischmann have yet to register a point.
All four signed four-year deals with the Panthers in 2011 that expire after this season.
"There is no concern from me because I think they are playing well,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. "To me, it doesn't matter who scores the goals but what's important is who competes and plays hard every night. These guys are working hard. I know they want to score goals but when you win, that takes care of everything else.''
Kopecky is coming off an injury shortened season after suffering a concussion during the Olympics in February.
Although Kopecky hasn't found the scoresheet yet this season, he came into camp in excellent shape and has played well on Florida's revamped fourth line.
In the lockout-shortened season in 2013, Kopecky put up some of the best numbers of his career, scoring 15 goals with 12 assists in just 47 games.
Last year, he had four goals with eight assists in 49.
"The years have flown and it's been great here,'' Kopecky said.
"The organization has done so much for me and we'll see what happens. I would obviously love to stay here but right now, I'm not focused on being in the last year of my contract. I'm just going game-by-game. It's obviously frustrating when you're not scoring, but you just keep working. I just have to play my game.''
Fleischmann also hasn't scored as this year seems to mirror his frustrating season in 2013-14 when he had plenty of opportunity just struggled to find the back of the net.
This year, Fleischmann is credited with 13 shots on goal. Fleischmann, whose eight goals last year were his lowest in a full season, says he's not worrying about his pending free agency because things have worked out for him in the past.
"I just worry about the next game,'' Fleischmann said. "I feel great on the ice right now, I'm getting the chances. They just aren't going in. I don't know what's going on. But we'll see what happens in time. This is just the start of the season. I think things are going to get rolling soon. It has to come. I've done a lot of work over the summer. You worry when you don't get the chances. Those, I've been getting.''
-- Center Dave Bolland, who suffered a lower body injury last week in Buffalo, didn't practice with the team again Friday and won't play Saturday against the Coyotes.
With the Panthers winning two of their past three games, there's no rush to mess with the lineup.
"He's a big part of our club but it's early in the season and you want to make sure everyone is 100 percent,'' Gallant said. "We haven't played many games so there's no sense to rush him back for one game.''
Saturday: Panthers at Coyotes
Where, When: Gila River Arena, Glendale, Ariz.; 9 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSNF/WQAM 560
The series: Arizona leads 14-9-3
Noteworthy: The Panthers have lost the past three games to the Coyotes and haven't won in Glendale since 2010. .-.-. Arizona defenseman Connor Murphy is the son of original Panthers' defenseman and former assistant coach Gord Murphy.

October 23, 2014

PANTHERS EN ESPANOL: Florida Panthers bringing back Spanish-language radio broadcasts on limited basis

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
For the first time since the team played at Miami Arena, the Panthers will have games broadcast on Spanish radio this season.
The team announced that the first game broadcast in Spanish (on Miami's 1210-AM ESPN Deportes as well as West Palm's 760-AM) comes next Thursday against Arizona. The two other games come after the New Year.
“These radio broadcasts will help to continue to grow and enhance our brand and the game with our Hispanic fan base in the tri-county area,'' team president and CEO Rory Babich said in a statement.
Arley Londono, the Panthers' original Spanish-language broadcaster from 1993-1996, will do play-by-play with Octavio Sequera as host and color analyst.

 

 

MacKENZIE IS BRINGING IT: Panthers' fourth line strong play credited to hard-nosed center

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
PHOENIX -- Derek MacKenzie wasn't the flashiest signing by the Panthers on the opening day of free agency and that's OK by him.
MacKenzie, after all, isn't a fancy player just one who gets after it every night.
Florida's new fourth-line center, MacKenzie has definitely made his presence known since joining the Panthers.
MacKenzie has one of Florida's goals this season and his 24 hits lead the team and are ranked eighth in the league.
"We knew what we were getting. His energy level is just extraordinary,'' general manager Dale Tallon said. "He has impeccable character and he's a great role model for our young guys. I've never seen a guy play so hard every single shift of every game he's in. He gives you everything he has in practice. He gets it.''
Said MacKenzie: "It's nice to hear things like that, especially from a guy like Dale. But you almost have no choice but to play that way if you want to bring energy to the team every night.''
The Panthers' fourth line -- which features Tomas Kopecky but has included Shawn Thornton, Jimmy Hayes and even Brad Boyes this season -- has been one of the team's strong suits.
"We're playing pretty simple hockey, going in straight lines, trying to create some energy and offensive zone time,'' Thornton said. "Being able to play with two pretty good players helps out a lot. It's been good.''
One reason the Panthers have given up just 13 goals this season -- tied for 10th fewest in the league -- has been the play of their fourth line and MacKenzie in particular.
In Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win over Colorado, MacKenzie took it upon himself to scrap with Marc-Andre Cliche.
Florida had just coughed up a 2-0 lead by giving up three straight goals and a change of mood was needed.
MacKenzie's fight -- he lost -- seemed to do the trick as Sean Bergenheim scored just over a minute later to tie the game going into the third period.
"He has great timing and gets it,'' Tallon said. "He'll do anything he has to win.''
Any negative swing of momentum heading into the second intermission was gone.
"I was signed here to be on the fourth line and you have to love that job,'' said MacKenzie, who has spent the past 10 seasons playing in the Atlanta and Columbus organizations.
"Our intentions aren't to be anything more than one of the best fourth lines in the game.''
-- Florida's penalty kill was put to work in the second period Tuesday as the Panthers were called for four penalties in the span of 10 minutes.
The Panthers killed off two of the four Colorado power plays that originated in the second period. A hooking call on Sean Bergenheim came at the end of the second and bled into the third.
Florida's penalty kill is ranked 28th in the league stopping 21 of 29 (72.4 percent).
-- The Panthers took Thursday off but will return to practice Friday at the Coyotes' arena in Glendale.

 

October 22, 2014

HAPPY CATS: Panthers have light day following Tuesday's 4-3 OT win over Avalanche

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
DENVER -- The Panthers were all smiles a day after Tuesday night's 4-3 overtime victory over Colorado at Pepsi Center.
Florida had its biggest offensive output of the season, won its first overtime game and are now 2-0-1 with the final game of this four-game trip coming Saturday in Arizona.
Brad Boyes won it with a power play slap shot midway through overtime.
"[Tuesday] was by far our best game as a group,'' coach Gerard Gallant said after a brief practice in Denver on Wednesday morning.
"We're real happy with some of the things we did.''
Tuesday's game was a back-and-forth affair that had both teams suffer from some questionable calls.
Florida, which was 0-2 in overtime before Tuesday,
led 2-0 after the first period before the Avalanche roared back with three unanswered goals in the second as Colorado cashed in with two power play goals in a span of 31 seconds.
The first came on a 5-on-3 chance after Erik Gudbranson was called for delay of game. Television replays showed the puck appeared to deflect off the glass and shouldn't have been a penalty.
The Panthers tied it late in the second when Sean Bergenheim redirected a hard shot from Dylan Olsen.
The two teams kept things tight in the third but Colorado looked to re-take the lead when Nick Bjugstad was called for interfering with goalie Reto Berra.
Bjugstad was driving the net trying to score the go-ahead goal when he was tripped up by Berra when he came out to play the puck.
"I thought they called it on the goalie and then they had the puck,'' Bjugstad said. "I don't know what happened. I don't think I interfered with the goalie. He tripped me as I was making a move so my shoulder went into him a little bit. You can't blame the refs. We won.''
Roberto Luongo started heading to the Florida bench when he saw a penalty was upcoming, assuming said call was going against Colorado.
When he realized the Avs were rushing up ice and no whistle had blown, Luongo rushed back to his position and made an awkward save on Gabriel Landeskog.
"I thought, for sure, it was a hook or something especially when the goalie came charging out,'' Luongo said. "I was coming to the bench, saw them with the puck and thought maybe the ref was confused a bit. Then there was no whistle and I was able to race back, thank God, before they got an empty net goal. It would have been ugly if they would have scored like that.''
After that, however, the calls all went Florida's way.
The Panthers should have been nabbed for having too many men on the ice and weren't. Tomas Fleischmann was dead to rights on a tripping call and was ignored. And then came a weak penalty on Colorado's Brad Stuart to put Florida at a 4-on-3 advantage in overtime.
A power play in overtime is usually successful as this one proved to be as well. Boyes took a feed from Jonathan Huberdeau and buried the shot.
"There were a few calls we didn't think were the right ones but they let some of ours go late in the game that they owed us,'' Boyes said.
"I don't know if it evened out because they tied it [on Gudbranson's call]. That was tough for us and got them back into it.''
Said Gallant: "The game ended as it should have.''
-- With the win, Luongo passed original Panthers' goalie John Vanbiesbrouck for 13th all-time with 375 career victories.
-- Florida took the initial lead 4:43 into the game when Brandon Pirri scored his first of the year off a booming slap shot from 45 feet out.
Pirri had been a healthy scratch in the first four games but had a number of scoring chances in his season debut Saturday.
With center Dave Bolland still out with a lower body injury, Pirri should remain in the lineup.
"I want to have to make hard decisions,'' Gallant said. "Pirri played well, scored a goal and was good on both ends of the ice. That's what we want to see out of our players.''
-- Aleksander Barkov scored his first goal of the season, making it 2-0 when he connected on a nice cross-ice pass from Aaron Ekblad

 

October 21, 2014

REFS GIVETH, TAKETH AWAY: Panthers take advantage of late non-calls and a weak one to top Colorado 4-3 in OT ... Roberto Luongo makes big saves, passes the Beezer for 13th all-time


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

DENVER -- After a number of questionable calls went against them, the Panthers got a couple to go their way.
It didn't even things up in their minds, but winning in the end sure helped tip the scales.
Brad Boyes' power play goal led the Panthers to a rousing 4-3 victory over the Avalanche at Pepsi Center late Tuesday night.
Florida was on the power play only after Brad Stuart was called for tripping Aleksander Barkov although he didn't touch him but at all.
Although Stuart's call wasn't as egregious as the goalie interference call on Florida's Nick Bjugstad nor the delay of game penalty on Erik Gudbranson, the Panthers took what they could get.
"There were a few calls we didn't think were the right ones but they let some of ours go late in the game that they owed us,'' Boyes said.
"I don't know if it evened out because they tied it [on Gudbranson's call]. That was tough for us and got them back into it.''
Florida led 2-0 for the first time this season and were making the Avs look slow and sloppy throughout the first and into the second.
The Panthers were called for their first penalty of the night with 10:56 left in the second when Boyes got nabbed for high sticking.
Moments later, the game turned Gudbranson was called for delay of game although television replays showed the puck deflect off the glass.
The four-man crew huddled and made the call putting the Panthers down two skaters for 1:03.
It only took the Avs 50 seconds to get their first goal with former Broward youth player Tyson Barrie burying a shot.
Still on the power play, Colorado tied it up by scoring twice within a 31 second span as Gabe Landeskog scored on a close-range shot over Roberto Luongo's shoulder.
"It was a tough stretch,'' said Luongo, who passed former Panthers' goalie John Vanbiesbrouck for 13th all-time with 375 career victories.
The Avs eventually took a 3-2 lead when Alex Tanguay's long shot skipped off the skates of Florida's Sean Bergenheim and past Luongo.
Instead of folding as the Panthers have been known to do, Florida fought back and evened things up before the second intermission when Bergenheim got his second of the season (not counting Tanguay's) by redirecting a long shot from Dylan Olsen.
"I felt good out there, our line felt good out there,'' said Bergenheim, who was reunited with Florida's 'Killer B' line alongside Boyes and Barkov. That trio combined for three goals.
"But all our lines were working really well too. That's what we have to keep working on, chemistry on all the lines.''
The two teams kept things tight in the third but Colorado looked to re-take the lead when Bjugstad was called for interfering with goalie Reto Berra.
Bjugstad was driving the net trying to score when he was tripped up by Berra when he came out to play the puck.
"I thought they called it on the goalie and then they had the puck,'' Bjugstad said. "I don't know what happened. I don't think I interfered with the goalie. He tripped me as I was making a move so my shoulder went into him a little bit. You can't blame the refs. We won.''
Luongo started heading to the Florida bench thinking the call would go against Colorado. When he realized the Avs were rushing up ice and no whistle had blown, Luongo rushed back to his position and made an awkward save on Landeskog.
"I thought, for sure, it was a hook or something especially when the goalie came charging out,'' Luongo said. "I was coming to the bench, saw them with the puck and thought maybe the ref was confused a bit. Then there was no whistle and I was able to race back, thank God, before they got an empty net goal. It would have been ugly if they would have scored like that.''
After that, however, the calls all went Florida's way.
The Panthers should have been nabbed for having too many men on the ice and weren't. Tomas Fleischmann was dead to rights on a tripping call and was ignored. And then came the penalty on Stuart to put Florida at a 4-on-3 advantage in overtime.
A power play in overtime is usually successful as this one proved to be as well.
"We played hard, competed hard and the game ended the way it should have,'' said coach Gerard Gallant, who was very animated during the game in conversations with the officials.
"I got pretty frustrated but we kept fighting back. The guys held their composure.''
The Panthers were cruising right along as they enjoyed their biggest offensive output of the season in the opening period.
Florida took the initial lead 4:43 into the game when Brandon Pirri scored his first of the year off a booming slap shot from 45 feet out.
The Panthers dominated play in the Colorado zone and made it 2-0 when Aaron Ekblad's slick cross-ice pass found Barkov before finding the back of the net.
Barkov roofed one past Berra for his first NHL goal this season and since Jan. 14. Barkov missed most of the second half of last year with a knee injury.
-- Florida's penalty kill was put to work in the second period as the Panthers were called for four penalties (three quite questionable) in the span of 10 minutes.
The Panthers killed off two of the four Colorado power plays that originated in the second period. Bergenheim's hooking call came at the end of the second and bled into the third.
-- The Panthers can thank the Denver Broncos for their lengthy road trip this week.
Tuesday's game in Denver was originally supposed to be played Thursday.
But with the Broncos already scheduled for Thursday Night Football, the Avs asked the Panthers if the game could be moved up so not to conflict with the popular football team.
So instead of flying home from Washington on Saturday night and heading to Colorado on Wednesday, the Panthers will spend 10 days on the road to play four games.
The Panthers are 2-0-1 in the first three games heading into Saturday's game at Arizona. Florida now has at least a point in all four of its road games this season.

 

 


SHOOTOUT SPECIALISTS: Panthers should be tougher in shootouts these days ... Gerard Gallant says team can overcome Rocky Mountain high

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
DENVER -- Although the Panthers are pretty deficient in most offensive categories, surprisingly, they should be pretty good in shootouts this season.
With two of the NHL's top shootout-goal collectors in Brad Boyes and Jussi Jokinen -- as well as rising specialist Jonathan Huberdeau -- Florida should be a tough out when it comes to the game-deciding shootout this year.
"You look at the success our guys have had in the past and I'm real confident in our shooters when it comes to that,'' said coach Gerard Gallant before Florida played the host Avalanche Tuesday night.
"I think we have a good opportunity when we get there.''
The Panthers are 0-1 in shootouts heading into Tuesday after losing in an abbreviated three-round match Saturday in Washington.
Florida got a goal from Huberdeau to tie the shootout score at 1, but down 2-1, Jokinen missed. Alex Ovechkin scored on Washington's third shot leaving Boyes -- who leads all active players with 37 shootout goals over the course of his career -- on the bench.
Florida has 41 wins to rank 24th in the league since shootouts became the deciding factor in tie games following a five minute overtime period in 2005.
Last year, thanks to Boyes and Huberdeau, Florida was tied for sixth in the league with eight shootout wins.
"I think it's real important we get those two points when we get to a shootout and we have guys who can score,'' said Huberdeau, who has scored on seven of his 17 shootout attempts over the past three seasons.
"We have a nice mix of older guys who are real good at them and younger guys who are skilled and can score too. I'm sure it's hard on the coach in picking his three shooters.''
New Jersey would have made the playoffs had it had even moderate success in the shootout last year only the Devils went 0-13 -- not picking up a single extra point in their race for the postseason.
As much as they may not like it, players know those extra points count big come April.
"I like our chances when we get into the shootout,'' Jokinen said. "We have a lot of guys with skill and that should help us. We know how important those extra points are in whether or not you make the playoffs. It's become an important point of the game. Just look at what happened to New Jersey last year.''
ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENT
Gallant said Tuesday that having an extra day in Denver could help the Panthers acclimate themselves to the thinner air.
Florida arrived in Colorado early Sunday morning and had two practices at Pepsi Center heading into Tuesday's game.
"There is some effect, but having two skates will help,'' Gerard said. "I remember the first time being here as a player and you didn't think much of it until you hit the ice. After four or five minutes you said, ' my God, I can barely breathe.' But you get used to it. Players are in such good shape these days that they overcome it.''
The Panthers will practice in Denver on Wednesday morning before flying to Phoenix for Saturday's game against the Coyotes.
-- Florida will again be without center Dave Bolland on Tuesday night after he suffered what Gallant calls a minor lower body injury Saturday in Washington.

 

October 20, 2014

'YOUNG GUNS' OFF TO SLOW START: Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov ready to start scoring ... Barkov back with Boyes and Bergenheim ... Cats in Colorado

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
DENVER -- The Panthers were expecting to get considerable scoring from second-year centers Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad this year.
Through the first five games, neither has scored.
Although Bjugstad admits to being frustrated with his scoring drought, Barkov says the first five games are all in the past.
When Florida takes on Colorado at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night, he's coming in with a fresh approach.
"Tomorrow is a new day,'' Barkov said of Tuesday's game. "My season starts tomorrow.''
Barkov was one of Florida's top offensive producers before being hurt last January. During Saturday's game against the Capitals, coach Gerard Gallant mixed up the lines, putting Barkov back with former linemates Brad Boyes and Sean Bergenheim.
Last year, that line was one of Florida's most successful combos. Barkov hopes to recreate some of that success starting Tuesday.


"I'm just trying to forget those five games and now we've got the 'Killer B' line back and I like that,'' Barkov said.
"I liked playing with Jussi [Jokinen] and Jonathan [Huberdeau] but I thought we played very well together last year. Bergenheim is helping me a lot, so is Boyes. We know each other very well. I think we'll play good.''
Said Gallant: "We're just trying to find some chemistry early in the season and they played well when we made the switch. They looked pretty good.''
Like Barkov, Bjugstad remains centering one of Florida's top two lines as he will be partnered up with Scottie Upshall and Huberdeau.
Although he hasn't scored a goal yet, Gallant says he likes the way Bjugstad has played on both ends of the ice. Bjugstad figures the goals will start going in eventually as he has been creating chances.
Florida only has scored five goals this season with five different players doing the honors. Bjugstad and Barkov would like to join that club soon.
"It's tough when you're not producing point-wise and we know being on the top lines, we need to start doing so,'' Bjugstad said.
"It's definitely something we need to figure out. We're getting chances and working hard, doing the little things. We're both young guys in this league and need to stay positive. The thing about playing in the NHL is you have to be consistent. You just can't stress out about it too much.''
-- Colorado and Florida are two of the lowest scoring teams in the league and are just two of four teams to yet to hit double digits in scoring.
Colorado has been hit with injuries to its goaltenders with AHL goalie Calvin Pickard filling in for backup Reto Berra after he was hurt Thursday in Ottawa. Starter Semyon Varlamov (groin) is on the injured list and won't play against the Panthers although Berra may.
The Avs are coming off a 1-2-1 road trip in which Colorado -- one of the top teams in the Western Conference last year -- was outscored just 12-9.
"They're coming home for the first time in a while and they'll be ready to play,'' Gallant said. "They didn't find a lot of success on the road but they're a good hockey team with a lot of speed.''
-- Dave Bolland (lower body) remained out of practice again Monday with Brandon Pirri expected to remain in the lineup for a second straight game.
Tuesday: Panthers at Avalanche
Where, When: Pepsi Center, Denver; 9 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSNF/WQAM 560
The series: Colorado leads 19-9-3
Noteworthy: The Panthers are ranked 25th in the Hockey News' first installment of its weekly power rankings. The Avs, which ended last season ranked third, is now 26th.

 

October 19, 2014

GETTING AFTER IT: Panthers defense keeping things close despite offensive woes ... Brandon Pirri happy to be back in the lineup

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
WASHINGTON -- The Panthers' offensive problems through the first five games this season are glaring.
Yet a team that's averaging just one goal a game is keeping its head above water so far, getting four of a possible 10 points.
Nothing great, for sure, but if not for Florida's defensive play, things could be so much worse.
The Panthers, now 1-2-2 heading into Tuesday's game at Colorado, have given up just nine goals this season.
Take away an unsightly four-goal first period by New Jersey in the home opener on Oct. 11 and Florida's goals-against average would be downright miniscule.
"They are doing some real good things,'' said coach Gerard Gallant, who credits consistent play on the backend by Florida's forwards as well as the Panthers' defensemen.
"We're getting good breakouts, the guys are really getting it and communicating well out there. Overall we're playing a stronger defensive game. If you can keep the goals down, you give yourself a chance and I think the guys are really buying in.''
The key to a good defense in hockey usually starts with goaltending and the Panthers definitely have that.
Starter Roberto Luongo moved up into a tie for 13th all-time in shutouts when he blanked the host Sabres on Friday night and Al Montoya gave up one goal off 28 shots in Saturday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Capitals.
As was the case Saturday, Florida has done a real good job in shutting out the oppositions star player this year.
Tampa Bay scored three goals against Florida in the season opener yet Steven Stamkos didn't find the scoresheet. On Saturday, all-world forward Alex Ovechkin was shut out -- a rarity for him against the Panthers over the years.
"I think you credit that to a bunch of guys who are working hard,'' Gallant said. "We really think it's a team thing. We hope taking care of our defensive end will lead to offensive chances. We're giving up 10-12 chances a game and our goalies have been making the saves.''
Florida knows it cannot rely on stout defense every night and that its offense is going to have to start carrying some of the load.
"We're trying to stick to the systems and limiting Washington to one goal is pretty good,'' Jonathan Huberdeau said. "We're not focusing on one guy but having good defense from all four lines. And our goalies have been pretty good. That's good to see. Both goalies have been ready to play.''
The Panthers' five goals ranks them dead last in the NHL -- even below the Sabres. By comparison, Pittsburgh leads the league by averaging four goals a night.
Florida is one of four teams (Colorado, Winnipeg and Buffalo) to remain in single digits in the scoring category.
Five goals have been scored by five separate players and Florida's two-goal night in Tampa Bay was its biggest output of the season.
-- Brandon Pirri was in the lineup for the first time this season on Saturday as he replaced the injured Dave Bolland.
Pirri created some offensive chances on Saturday and hopes that's earned him some more playing time.
"It's fun being out there, it's hockey, it's what you want to do,'' said Pirri, who scored seven goals in 21 games for the Panthers at the end of last season.
"I had some chances and wish I would have buried them. .-.-. You want to be playing but Gerard has to do what he thinks is best for the team. I have to stay ready and make the most of the opportunity.''
-- The Panthers took Sunday off after landing in Denver early in the morning. The team is scheduled to practice at Pepsi Center on Monday.

 

October 18, 2014

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT: Panthers lose again in Washington but grab point with 2-1 shootout loss

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
WASHINGTON -- Verizon Center has brought the Panthers nothing but pain in recent years only Saturday night was different.
Yes, the Panthers' 2-1 shootout defeat was their 10th loss in the past 11 games here.
But to get a point in the standings against the Capitals after winning the previous night in Buffalo gives Florida something to build on.
"That was a great road point,'' general manager Dale Tallon said afterward. "We'll take it.''
Florida hasn't won in Washington since 2010 yet had chances Saturday to turn that tide.
Brad Boyes tied the score at 1 early in the third period and Florida stuck around against backup goalie Justin Peters.
Washington's Alex Ovechkin, whose shootout goal ended things in an abbreviated third round, had a tremendous scoring chance snuffed out in the final seconds of regulation as Erik Gudbranson and Derek Olsen converged on the Capitals' star and knocked the puck free.
"Our guys showed character,'' said goalie Al Montoya, making his first start in relief of starter Roberto Luongo.
"It's not always easy. This is a tough building to come and play in and it was a one-goal game throughout. We battled back and got a point. I wanted to be the difference in getting the whole two points but I wasn't. We'll come back at it.''
Washington took its initial lead late in the opening period when Jason Chimera took a slick feed from Eric Fehr and faked out Montoya before popping the puck into the back of the net.
Montoya ended with 27 saves.
"[Chimera] sold me and I slid,'' Montoya said.
The Panthers didn't do much offensively until the third period rolled around and Boyes' picked up his first goal of the season.
Boyes' goal came on Florida's fourth power play of the game.
The Panthers have only scored five goals through their first five games of the season. Two of the goals have come on the power play.
"We've got to find ways to score more,'' Boyes said. "We've got to find more offense, sustain more pressure. They have a good team, but we have to realize that we do as well. We've got to start playing in sync a little but more. But we got one point and that's always important.''
The Panthers had plenty of chances to break the tie in overtime, with Nick Bjugstad getting perhaps Florida's best look.
In the shootout, Washington went first and connected on all three of its shots.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored on Florida's first chance but Jussi Jokinen was stopped on the second and the Panthers never got a third shot down 3-1.
"This was obviously a big point, Washington is a good team who plays well at home,'' coach Gerard Gallant said. "We picked things up in the third. We would have liked to get that second point in overtime, had some chances, but this was a good effort.''
NEWS, NOTES
Jacob Markstrom looked right at home playing in San Antonio on Friday night as well he should have.
Markstrom, who was Florida's top goalie prospect, made his first appearance in San Antonio since Florida traded him to Vancouver in the Roberto Luongo deal last year.
Markstrom stopped all 28 shots he faced in shutting out his former teammates as his Utica Comets beat the Rampage 3-0.
Dan Ellis, who was making his second start of the season for Florida's AHL affiliate, stopped 21 of 24 shots and took the loss.
-- Brandon Pirri was in the lineup for the first time this season in place of center Dave Bolland (lower body). Gallant also replaced Jimmy Hayes with Shawn Thornton.
"I thought he was good,'' Gallant said of Pirri. "He's a skill player and put two or three shots up and had a chance.''
-- Saturday's game was Florida's first in the shootout this season. The Panthers have picked up at least a point in all three road games this season.
The Panthers are winless in two overtime games, losing at Tampa Bay and Saturday in Washington.


 

October 17, 2014

WINGING IT: Sean Bergenheim's wrister, Roberto Luongo's goaltending lift Panthers to first win of season 1-0 over Buffalo

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
BUFFALO -- It wasn't the prettiest goal Sean Bergenheim ever scored but the Panthers are far from being choosy.
When you score as little as Florida has this season, every goal is beautiful.
Friday night, Bergenheim's odd-angled wrister and Roberto Luongo's big play in net lifted the Panthers to their first win of the young season, a 1-0 victory over the host Sabres.
"Well, it worked,'' said Bergenheim, who quickly pulled the trigger on a pass from Brad Boyes early in the second.
"I think we got better and we're trying to get better every day. But we're not there yet.''
Florida, which has four goals in its four games this season, is 1-2-1.
Buffalo has yet to win at home this year and looks like it could finish last in the NHL again this season.
The Panthers came hard after Buffalo but failed to score in the opening period despite outshooting the Sabres 16-3.
Florida took a lead for just the second time this season on Bergenheim's shot.
Prior to that, Florida had held a lead for just 2:09 after taking a 1-0 advantage in the opener last week in Tampa.
Luongo, who shutout the Sabres twice last year including once here while with the Canucks exactly a year ago, did the rest.
"We played a great game, a solid 60 minutes,'' said Luongo, who stared down a 5-on-3 disadvantage late in the third. "We had a great first period, didn't score, but carried the momentum into the second. We didn't change our game plan and held down the fort in the third. We needed this kind of win, get it out of the way.''
Luongo stopped all 26 shots faced and earned the team's 'hero' jacket which is an old wool Army coat picked up during its trip to West Point.
Last year, Luongo shutout the Sabres with 25 saves in what was his return to the Panthers on March 7.
"I thought we controlled the game in the first half,'' said coach Gerard Gallant, who earned his first win as coach of the Panthers.
"You get worried when you don't get chances and we had plenty in that game. When you only have three goals coming in, you can be a little nervous. But you know if you get chances, they'll go in eventually.''
-- With the shutout, Luongo passed former Montreal and Colorado great Patrick Roy on the all-time list. Roy, now the coach of the Avs, plays host to the Panthers on Tuesday.
Luongo has 67 career shutouts placing him in a tie with Roy Worters for 13th all-time. Lorne Chabot and Harry Lumley (71 each) are next on the list.
"I'm just focused in trying to get some wins here,'' Luongo said. "Those kind of records are the things you look back on when it's said and done. It's nice to have, but there are things more important right now.''
-- Center Dave Bolland appeared to collide with teammate Tomas Kopecky at the end of Friday's game and limped off the ice.
If Bolland misses Saturday's game, Brandon Pirri would likely center Florida's third line. Pirri has been a healthy scratch the past four games.
-- Florida's Aaron Ekblad and Buffalo's Sam Reinhart met for the first time in an NHL game after the duo went 1-2 in the draft last June.
Although Florida and Buffalo hook up a few more times, Reinhart isn't expected to be with the Sabres much longer.
Reinhart, who played just one shift in the third period Friday, could be back with his junior team in the coming weeks.
Saturday: Panthers at Capitals
Where, when: Verizon Center, Washington; 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSNF/WQAM 560
The series: Washington leads 58-44-9
Noteworthy: Washington has won 10 of the past 13 games. Florida, playing in its first back-to-back set of the season, hasn't won in D.C. since 2010. Gerard Gallant said Al Montoya would start in net.

 

October 15, 2014

LINE SHUFFLE?: Jimmy Hayes works with top line, Brad Boyes with fourth


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards


With Dave Bolland (travel) and Shawn Thornton (minor lower body injury) missing practice on Wednesday, Gallant had some juggling to do.
Brandon Pirri again replaced Bolland, but the big move was putting Jimmy Hayes (four shots on seven shifts Monday) up on the top line and sliding Brad Boyes down to the fourth.
Gallant said not to read too much into the changes although Hayes said it was nice to be wearing the red practice jersey for a change.
"I just have to continue to make sure I'm noticed out there, bring a lot of energy,'' said Hayes, who was scratched in Florida's first two games.
"I'm in the role I've been in my whole career, playing hard and bringing energy, creating offense around the net. It's nice to play with [Aleksander] Barkov, but if I bring my game, hopefully it will create some space so they can be as creative as they can be.''
Boyes spent more time on the ice Wednesday than anyone, working a good 15 minutes after all other players came into the locker room.
"I had work to do, I keep losing the puck and dumping it in on breakaways,'' said Boyes, who led the Panthers in goals last year but has yet to score in three games this season.
"I need to work on keeping it on my puck and putting it in. The last few games I've lost the puck in key areas. I just have to bear down and concentrate more.''
-- Bolland skated before the team Wednesday and then left for Toronto. Bolland was being honored by his junior team in London, Ontario, Wednesday night as they retired his number.
Bolland will join the team Friday in Buffalo.


 


WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA: Aaron Ekblad thriving with Panthers, knows he could have been a Sabre


TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
When Aaron Ekblad jumps on the charter jet Thursday afternoon he will be going from his new home in the Sunshine State to a town that could have been his new place of residence.
The Panthers visit Buffalo on Friday night and it isn't lost on Ekblad that he very well could have been wearing a Sabres jersey in that game.
Although Buffalo finished with the worst record in the NHL last year, Florida won the draft lottery and jumped the Sabres to the top of the list.
Florida selected Ekblad with the top overall pick; Buffalo was expected to have done the same.
"I always think about things that could have happened, but I couldn't be happier than where I am right now,'' Ekblad said.
"This is probably the best place for me to have the opportunity to play and I love it here.''
Ekblad has played well in his first three NHL games with the Panthers.
Paired with veteran defenseman Brian Campbell, Ekblad has definitely not looked out of place as he did at times early in the preseason and has been doing some good things with the puck.
Although the Panthers have the option of sending him back to his junior team after nine games without him burning a year off his contract, it doesn't appear that Ekblad is going anywhere.
Ekblad says he feels confident in his game and is feeling more and more like an NHL player. He says he doesn't even think about going back to play major-junior hockey because he's a part of the Panthers now.
"You're going against pretty good players and have to respect that,'' Ekblad said. "You don't like to make mistakes and want to capitalize on your talents. So confidence is a big thing. If you make mistakes, don't dwell on them. I have such good support here, it makes things a bit easier.''
Coach Gerard Gallant said Wednesday that even thought Ekblad may be the youngest player in the NHL, he hasn't looked it.
Ekblad's time on the ice has increased in each game. In the opener against Tampa Bay, he played 19 minutes off 20 shifts. Monday, he got 24 shifts and almost 24 minutes of ice time."The kid is playing the way we want him to,'' Gallant said. "He's looked good. He's playing the way he did in junior although he's playing against men, against NHL players so he's not getting the scoring chances he did. Still, he's putting the puck to the net, moving the puck and defending real well. He's getting better every game.''

 

October 14, 2014

LIGHTS OUT: Winless Panthers have three goals in three games, worst start in franchise history

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
During his first stint with the Panthers, goalie Roberto Luongo had a small margin of error if he hoped to get a victory.
That's also been the case through the first three games of this season.
Florida is off to its worst three-game start since 2007 and its offense shoulders much of that blame.
The winless Panthers have scored just three goals in their first three games which is the fewest to start a season in franchise history.
"It's a low scoring league and there aren't a lot of teams scoring four, five goals a game,'' said Luongo, who has lost two one-goal games so far.
"A lot of the games are like this, 1-0, 2-1. That's the type of hockey games we're going to be in this year and we have to be comfortable playing in them.''
The 2007-08 team which started 0-3 scored a total of four goals in those games.
"We're not getting any bounces, not getting any shots through and we're missing chances,'' general manager Dale Tallon said after Florida's 1-0 loss to the visiting Senators on Monday night.
"Of the three games, we've played two good ones and have nothing to show for it. It's just the timing of things. Guys not knowing where everyone else is has something to do with it. We need to score more, no doubt. We're not a prolific scoring team by any means, but we need more out of a lot of guys.''
The Panthers have been one of the lowest scoring teams in the league for years, finishing at or near the bottom of the NHL for four straight seasons.
Tallon tried to rectify Florida's scoring problems -- the Panthers' were ranked 29th in goal scoring last year -- in the offseason by strengthening the team's bottom two lines.
Bringing in a few veterans to help along Florida's youngsters hasn't worked so far.
Although Jonathan Huberdeau has one of Florida's three goals, players such as Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov have yet to find the back of the net.
"We have a few new guys but a lot of us have played together before,'' Bjugstad said Monday. "We need to start working together see what we can do. Who know what can happen over the next couple of games. When you're not scoring goals, there isn't much chemistry going on.''
Coach Gerard Gallant could mix up some of his lines before Friday's game at Buffalo with Brandon Pirri perhaps finding his way out of the press box.
Pirri is a player who could give the Panthers a scoring lift as he had seven goals in 21 games at the end of last season after Florida acquired him a deal with Chicago.
“We’re all a part of the same team,'' said Pirri, who has been a healthy scratch the first three games.
"Losses are losses, no one wants to have that. It’s frustrating because I think I can help this team but, at the same time, I’m being the best teammate I can be and just waiting for my turn.”
Gallant made a minor change on Monday, bringing in Jimmy Hayes (11 goals in 53 games last year) and sitting Shawn Thornton.
"He played real well,'' Gallant said. "He played real hard and that's what we need. He was excited to get back in the lineup and wants to stay. That's what we want from our players.''
On Monday, he said he wasn't adverse to looking things over in an attempt to change things up.
"We'll look at the line combinations and see what we're going to do,'' Gallant said.