The Panthers’ locker room doors remained sealed tight for almost 10 minutes following yet another loss, this one a 4-1 decision to the host Bruins.
There was plenty of yelling and plenty of profanity leaking through those locked doors, the frustrations of a seven-game losing streak.
“There are no positives right now,” Shawn Matthias lamented. “It’s embarrassing. I cannot remember the last time we won.”
Florida, 0-3-4 since beating Minnesota on Oct. 19, hasn’t suffered this many consecutive losses since the final weeks of Pete DeBoer’s time behind the bench. Florida was basically fielding a minor-league team then.
Some wonder what the Panthers are putting on the ice now both externally and internally. It’s not good, everyone agrees.
“There’s only one thing that matters and it’s two points,” coach Kevin Dineen said.
“I think our players understand that and feel it as well.”
Even though many Boston fans hoped former Bruins hero Tim Thomas was in net for the Panthers, he sat out his sixth consecutive game because of an undisclosed lower-body injury.
Scott Clemmensen, a former standout down the road at Boston College, stood tall but ended up losing his third consecutive start at the Garden after Boston scored twice within four-plus minutes in the third.
The teams played a scoreless first, but Boston broke free on a long shot from David Krejci 7:17 into the second.
Brad Marchand then got an easy one when he charged in on Clemmensen after the Florida goalie made the initial stop but watched the puck slip between his skates. No one came to Clemmensen’s aid as Marchand swooped in for the tap-in killer.
The Panthers were never the same. By the time Jesse Winchester — who could be suspended for Saturday’s game after throwing an elbow at Chris Kelly — scored his fourth of the year, Florida was down 3-1 with less than six minutes left.
The highlight of the night for Florida might have been seeing Thomas feted on the HD boards at center ice during the third period.
Thomas slipped into the top-level press deck during the third period yet was caught on camera after his highlight roll finished. Thomas stood and waved as he received a standing ovation from the city he led to its first Stanley Cup in almost 40 years in 2011.
“It was great to be back at the Garden, great to be back in Boston,” Thomas told the Miami Herald as he headed to the elevator late in the game.
“I was hoping for that kind of reaction from the fans. I loved playing here. I loved Boston. It was nice to see that response.’’
Thomas is expected to return to the ice Saturday at Ottawa. On Thursday, Thomas said his goal was to play in Boston, but his injury kept him from doing so.
“I was aiming for this game, wanted to play,’’ said Thomas, who has skated since last week. “The reason we’re being so cautious is so when I come back, I’m back for good. I want to help this team.’’
Thomas was one of three Florida goalies on the ice for Thursday’s morning skate. There was only one a large throng of media cared about.
Members of the local media took up residence on the empty Bruins bench, snapping pictures of Thomas working on the Garden ice for the first time since April 25, 2012 — a Game 7 loss to Washington in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Panthers are back here Jan. 28.
“I don’t want Tim for one game, I want him for a major bulk-load,’’ Dineen said. “That’s what he was brought here for. When he gets in the mix, I want him for the long run. I want him to be in that locker room, want him in that mix.’’