This isn’t the homecoming the Florida Panthers anticipated, wanted or needed.
“We should go back on the road,” one front office type quipped.
Yes, the the road-warrior Panthers failed to pick up any postseason real estate as they stumbled on home ice once again Friday night, losing 4-2 to the Calgary Flames at BB&T Center.
Florida, which set a franchise record by winning all five of its most recent road games, has lost its past two in Sunrise to Alberta rivals Edmonton and Calgary.
The Flames, meanwhile, got the Sunshine State sweep by taking down the Panthers a night after dispatching the host Tampa Bay Lightning.
“We played a good game, had a lot of chances,” Sasha Barkov said, “but we need to tighten up our defensive game and play like we did on the road. We gave them too many easy goals. We need to play a better defensive game. We can beat any team in the league if we play the right way.”
Friday night started off just fine for the home team as Nick Bjugstad’s power-play goal 4:54 in gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
But Calgary quickly took control with three consecutive goals before Barkov brought it to 3-2 with 2:40 left in the first.
The Flames upped their lead to two again in the second when Matt Stajan’s side shot bounced off the sliding skate of Troy Brouwer and past Roberto Luongo — who moved into fourth on the NHL’s all-time list with his 964th game played.
“We got off to a good start and then we let it slip away,” Keith Yandle said. “We gave them life.”
Flames goalie Chad Johnson was named the top star of the night after he stopped 36 shots and held the Panthers scoreless in the final two periods by making 30 saves down the stretch.
“We had a ton of chances, just didn’t have any lucky bounces and their goaltender played unbelievable,” Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe said. “We were all over them.”
Counting a 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings before leaving for their 5-0 trip, the Panthers have lost their past three at BB&T Center heading into Sunday’s big game against Ottawa.
The Panthers are chasing the Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and could have gotten closer had they earned even one of the four available points since coming home — although Ottawa losing Friday at Carolina didn’t hurt.
“We just need to forget this game,” Barkov said.