One thing the Panthers have been very good over the course of the past 14 years is digging themselves into a deep hole early in the season.
Save for Florida’s playoff season in 2011-12 when the Panthers were 12-6-3 by Thanksgiving, bad starts have become commonplace.
After Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Devils in their home opener, the Panthers need to bounce back and fast.
Going into Monday’s home game against Ottawa, Florida is 0-1-1 with its lone point coming via an overtime loss at Tampa Bay last Thursday.
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With a four-game road trip coming up, the Panthers could use a win.
“I forgot about [Saturday] because you have to move on,’’ said coach Gerard Gallant, who has yet to record a victory of any kind in his first season with the team. Florida went 0-4-2 in the preseason.
“You play too many games to worry about yesterday. You have to move on and [Monday] is another big game. There are no easy games for the Florida Panthers, and we have to be ready to play every night.’’
Scottie Upshall said Florida should focus more on what it did right against the Lightning and not what went wrong against the Devils.
“We had a good day [Sunday] and know that a 1-1-1 start isn’t that bad,’’ Upshall said. “We’re focused on winning the next game before we head off on the road trip. We have to focus on the next game, the next shift.’’
So far this season, Florida has struggled again on special teams as Tampa Bay and New Jersey has scored five goals on 12 power-play chances.
Florida, on the other hand, has one goal on 10 tries with the man advantage.
Saturday, Derek MacKenzie got Florida’s lone goal when he was thrown out on the power play despite not working on that unit all year.
MacKenzie got just his second power-play goal of his career only it was too late for the Panthers to do much of anything. Florida was already down five goals at the time.
“I think everyone is settling into their roles here,’’ MacKenzie said after Sunday’s light practice in Coral Springs. “There are things we can build on.’’
▪ With management curtailing free tickets to employees and sponsors as well as cutting back on discounted ticket packages, attendance at BB&T Center is expected to be way down.
Saturday’s opener drew an announced 11,419 — lowest for an opener in franchise history.
Monday’s game could easily become the lowest announced attendance for a home game in franchise history.
Florida’s record for lowest attendance at a home game is 10,063 against Carolina on Oct. 31, 2007.
“I’ve seen way worse,’’ said Upshall, who routinely played in front of small crowds during his days with Phoenix.
“The fans we have here are extremely loyal. We just need to bring our own energy onto the ice. You can still can create a nice buzz in the BB&T Center by scoring goals, getting wins. We know things are tough, but when we win and produce, people want to come out and see us.’’
The smallest announced attendance in Panthers history was 4,802 for a game against the Capitals in Landover, Maryland, on Dec. 28, 1993, because of a massive snowstorm.
▪ Center Dave Bolland and winger Shawn Thornton didn’t participate in Sunday’s practice, but Gallant says they will be available Monday.
Monday: Senators at Panthers
When/where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.
TV/radio: FSNF; WQAM 560.
The series: Ottawa leads 46-30-3.
Notes: The Panthers went .500 against the Senators last year, the first season Ottawa didn’t have a winning season in the series since 2008-09. The Sens have taken the season series six of the past eight years.