The Panthers were desperate for a bounce-back win Thursday after getting shellacked 8-2 in Winnipeg a few days earlier.
They didn’t get it.
Florida had its share of chances but struggled against goalie Semyon Varlamov as Colorado escaped BB&T Center with a 4-2 win.
The Panthers have lost two consecutive regulation games for the first time since November.
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Florida remains three points back of the Rangers for the final playoff spot in the East but is now five back of Boston, which holds the top wild-card slot.
“We’re not happy. We wanted to come home and get off to a good start.’’ Nick Bjugstad said. “We need to be better on the penalty kill, not get so many penalties. We have to find ways to put the puck in the net. It’s a tough way to lose.’’
Before Nick Holden scored on a power play with nine minutes left, the Panthers had matched Colorado’s first two goals within minutes.
Three minutes after Tyson Barrie gave the Avs a 1-0 lead, Aaron Ekblad fired off a mid-range shot from the slot that beat Varlamov (30 saves).
In the second, Colorado made it 2-1 on Gabe Landeskog’s goal only to have Aleksander Barkov tie it a mere 23 seconds later.
“I thought we played a good game, honestly, we were as good a team as they were,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said. “Overall, we competed and played a lot better than last game obviously.’’
In the third, Holden fired a shot from 50 feet out that was deflected by Scottie Upshall’s stick and skipped off the ice and past Roberto Luongo.
Colorado was able to hold off Florida’s charges and iced the game on an empty-net goal by Jarome Iginla with 27 seconds left.
“The guys had a little more pep in their step and we played well, fought hard,’’ Luongo said. “We had a bad bounce, a bad goal by me and that’s the difference.’’
The Panthers longest road trip was extended by a few hours Wednesday as their chartered jet was grounded in Winnipeg delaying their departure by more than four hours.
The team was able to get a jet from Canada’s Sun Country Airlines and landed in Fort Lauderdale after 8 p.m.
Most of the players spent their time milling about Winnipeg’s airport either playing cards, watching videos or reading. Some tried to catch up on sleep.
“It was a safe day and we made it back, which is the main thing,’’ Gallant said. “We get spoiled. We get to come back to a great place and sometimes you face some adversity.’’
▪ Florida sent defenseman Shane O’Brien back to its minor-league affiliate in San Antonio after he was not used in the past two games.
Forward Shawn Thornton is close to returning to the lineup as well, and O’Brien maxed out Florida’s roster.