The Panthers played perhaps their worst game of the season late Thursday night as they never led in a 5-2 loss at San Jose.
The host Sharks, coached by former Florida bench boss Pete DeBoer, took a 2-0 lead midway through the first and never trailed.
The Panthers, who lost a tough 3-2 shootout the night before in Anaheim after leading until the final seconds, went into the third down two and didn’t recover.
“You fall behind 2-0 and then try to catch up,’’ said coach Gerard Gallant, whose team has lost four in a row. “We didn’t play our game. ... We played a loose game and gave them too many opportunities. They could have had more than five goals.”
The Panthers played a sloppy game for much of the night but did have their chances against San Jose backup Alex Stalock.
Down 2-0 in the first, the Panthers cut into their deficit when Vincent Trocheck won a faceoff in the San Jose zone, tracked down the loose puck and slammed a shot past Stalock with 9:06 left in the period.
“We started off a little shaky,’’ said Trocheck, who pulled into a tie with Jaromir Jagr for the team lead with 10 points. “Turnovers are going to kill us. We’ve been saying it all year long; teams like San Jose are going to capitalize on our mistakes.”
Early in the second, San Jose made it 3-1 when Patrick Marleau scored only to have Florida answer on a Brandon Pirri power-play goal with 5:54 remaining in the period.
San Jose made it 4-2 moments later, but Gallant challenged the goal and that was rewarded as San Jose was ruled to be offside.
The Sharks quickly got that fourth goal back, however, walking through the Florida defense with Marc-Edouard Vlasic cashing in on a 3-on-1 rush to beat Al Montoya.
Neither Gallant nor his team was happy with the sloppy play.
“Almost everything they got [Thursday night] was off of us turning pucks over,’’ Gallant said. “We weren’t sharp. Whether we were tired or not, we weren’t sharp.”
Said captain Willie Mitchell: “We looked like a very young hockey team ... not a mature hockey club. San Jose has been to the playoffs a number of years. Teams like San Jose put pucks in the right places. It enables you to get a good forecheck. The result is you get yourself out of your own end.”
Montoya made his fourth start of the season and took his first loss with 27 saves. The four goals allowed — the fifth goal came into an empty net — is the most Montoya has given up this season.
“I think we pride ourselves on never giving up a game,’’ Trocheck said. “But to win games we can’t give up four goals. We hung our goaltender out to dry.”
The Panthers continue their California trip Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles and will try to get their first win at Staples Center since 2002.
▪ Center Dave Bolland was out of the lineup after taking a slap shot from Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler off his hand in the final seconds of regulation on Wednesday. Bolland practiced Friday in San Jose and could be available Saturday. Shawn Thornton replaced Bolland on Thursday.
Saturday: Panthers at Kings
When/where: 4 p.m.; Staples Center, Los Angeles.
TV/radio: FSFL; 1490 WMBM, 640 WMEN.
Series: Los Angeles leads 14-9-3.
Scouting report: After a 0-3 start, the Kings quickly got things back together and reeled off seven consecutive wins. Los Angeles has cooled since, however, losing two of its past three.