When the Panthers’ game against Philadelphia ends on Saturday night, a little over 10 percent of the season already will be finished.
If Florida doesn’t start winning some games, and soon, the 2013 season may be over just as it starts.
The Panthers lost for the third time in a row Thursday night, dropping a 3-1 decision to Ottawa at BB&T Center. The Panthers have just two points in the standings, courtesy of their rousing 5-1 win over Carolina on opening night.
That game may have just been a few days ago, but seems like it happened around the holidays. Florida (1-3-0) lost three in a row in regulation once last season; that already happened four games into the abbreviated 2013 season.
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“We have to be in desperation mode right now,” captain Ed Jovanovski said. “We need a win, and we need one badly.”
On Thursday — for the second time in four nights — former Panthers goalie Craig Anderson kept Florida’s sagging offense in check.
Anderson owns the Panthers as he won for the ninth time in 10 decisions against his former team by making 25 saves. Ottawa beat the Panthers for the 11th time in the past 12 meetings.
Despite playing without four of its top offensive forwards, Florida took its first lead in a game since last Saturday’s season opener against Carolina in the first period.
Tomas Fleischmann, the only remaining first-line player on the ice Thursday, picked up his first goal of the season when he scored on a power play 8:24 into Florida’s second home game of the young season.
Fleischmann was playing on an all new line Thursday as Stephen Weiss joined Kris Versteeg on the sideline. That trio combined for 70 goals and 172 points last season; Fleischmann’s goal was the first of the season for either he or Weiss. They had three points through the first three games.
When asked for comment afterward, Fleischmann said he had to go to the medical room and pointed to a bloody spot on his foot. That’s just what the Panthers need.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,’’ coach Kevin Dineen said when asked about the injuries piling up. “I have other options. I have to take the 18 they give me and move forward.’’
Goalie Jose Theodore has definitely been giving the Panthers value on their financial investment this season as he was terrific again Thursday.
Theodore made 41 saves in last weekend’s opening win and kept the Panthers in Monday’s loss in Ottawa. Thursday, Theodore made 35 saves as Ottawa’s third goal went into a vacant net.
“I feel like I’m in midseason form, feel really good,’’ said Theodore, 1-2-0 this year.
“I’m trying to give my team a chance to win every night.’’
Ottawa tied the score three minutes after Fleischmann scored when Chris Phillips scored on a long shot on an extended power-play chance. Florida was down two skaters for 1:01 but survived that; Phillips’ goal came with 12 seconds left in Scottie Upshall’s hooking penalty.
Phillips’ goal came on Ottawa’s 15th shot of the game as the Senators were outshooting Florida 15-3 at that point.
On Monday, the Senators outshot the Panthers 18-4 in the first period yet led only 1-0 at the break, thanks to the play of Theodore. Thursday, Ottawa’s shot advantage in the opening period ended up being just 16-7 as the game was tied going into intermission.
The Senators broke the deadlock in the second when defenseman Erik Karlsson — the reigning Norris Trophy winner as the league’s top blueliner — zipped a shot that found its way over Theodore’s shoulder midway through the period.
That goal was set up by a poor crossing pass from Shawn Matthias that was picked off by Karlsson.
Theodore also stopped a penalty shot taken by Guillaume Latendresse with 9:11 left after he was dragged down by Brian Campbell going unopposed to the net.