The Panthers got the start they were hoping for Tuesday night although their two early power-play goals didn’t hold up for long.
Ottawa, which has struggled almost as badly as Florida this year, scored four unanswered goals to beat the Panthers 4-2 in front of a friends-and-family gathering at BB&T Center.
Florida has lost three in a row and five of the past six.
“This is frustrating. It’s not fun,” said defenseman Brian Campbell, whose team led 2-0 less than nine minutes into the game.
“I feel like we’re close but we keep making major mistakes that cost us. They don’t seem to leave our game.”
Florida’s power play got things going early with Jonathan Huberdeau scoring the opening goal on a 5-on-3 chance by following up Tomas Fleischmann rebound. Fleischmann’s assist marked his first point in 10 games.
Campbell made it 2-0 on the extended power-play chance by roofing a shot past former Florida goalie Craig Anderson.
Ottawa, which took 21 shots in the opening period, closed the first with goals from Joe Corvo and Erik Condra. Corvo’s goal was a 55-foot wrister from just inside the blue line, the puck zipping over Tim Thomas’ right shoulder.
Ottawa spent much of the second on the power play, cashing in late in the period when another long shot from Corvo hit teammate Colin Greening and bounced over Thomas’ head.
Greening’s goal served as the game-winner as Bobby Ryan tacked on the fourth goal with 8:08 left to put the Panthers away.
“We had a great start then got into penalty trouble,” said Scottie Upshall, who was flagged for three of Florida’s eight infractions. “I thought our penalty kill did a great job but you can’t build momentum when you are killing and not creating offense. My two penalties in the offensive zone were unacceptable. I can’t be doing that.”
Struggling defenseman Dmitry Kulikov watched Tuesday’s game from the press box after being scratched from the lineup.
“I’m disappointed, that’s the only way to describe it,” said Kulikov, the 14th overall pick of the 2009 draft who made his NHL debut a few months later.
“I’m going to work hard to get back into the lineup. I think most of this is mental. The mistakes I’ve made weren’t forced; I shouldn’t have made them. What happened, happened. I have to work hard to get it out of me and not worry about it.”
Kulikov, the subject of trade rumors, has been his own worst enemy of late. On Monday, coach Peter Horachek called Kulikov one of Florida’s most talented defensive players — but one who needed to get out of this slump.
Horachek said taking a step back Tuesday might be what Kulikov needs.
“I think that’s a good thing for a lot of players. They have to go through this process,” Horachek said.
“They have to be accountable to their teammates. We’ve decided it’s best for him to just sit back, to see it and come back with a whole new approach to the game. … The attitude is key when it comes to adversity. And this is adversity.”
Mike Mottau replaced Kulikov in the lineup and was hit with a pair of penalties.