BY GEORGE RICHARDS
The Panthers led Edmonton by a goal heading into the third period despite not having a single power play in the first 40 minutes.
Coincidence or not, but the Panthers got three chances with the man advantage in the final period in a game they ended up losing.
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Sure, the Panthers power play is improved over last season but that's not saying much.
Florida finished last in the league on the power play last year and set a franchise low for power play efficiency.
This year is better, yes, but things sure aren't good.
On Saturday, the Oilers scored a goal on a Florida power play chance -- a shorthanded goal that was a killer -- as the Panthers went 0-for-3.
The Panthers have scored just one goal in their past 19 tries and have a single power play goal in their past seven games.
Thanks to the inept Sabres, however, don't expect the Panthers to finish last in the league this year.
Florida's power play is currently 29th in the league, its 17 goals in 129 tries good for a 13.2 percent success rate. The last place Sabres have just 12 power play goals (9.4 percent).
"We have to be smarter with the puck and really get set up,'' said Jonathan Huberdeau, who has yet to pot a power play goal this year.
"And you definitely can't give one up when you have the power play chance. That hurts.''
Already past the midway point, how do the Panthers rectify the situation?
Coach Gerard Gallant has already tried some new things but the Panthers haven't been able to create much offensive chances.
The team works on the power play throughout the week, yet nothing seems to get better.
Florida was ranked as high as 23rd on the power play this year, but since Nov. 22, the Panthers have just seven goals.
In a league that places so much importance on special teams, that's not going to cut it.
"It's a struggle,'' Gallant said. "We're putting the guys on the ice we think can get the job done. It's frustrating, no doubt. The players are getting frustrated. But you keep working in practice and hopefully get better.''
-- The Panthers will try and salvage the finale of this three-game homestand before the All-Star break kicks off as Vancouver visits Monday.
Florida has lost three straight since having its first three-game winning streak of the season. That three-game run started with a 3-1 win in Vancouver in Roberto Luongo's homecoming.
The Panthers have lost four straight in Sunrise, going 0-2-2.
"I think we've played pretty well at home generally although we've lost a few here lately,'' Luongo said of Florida's recent home struggles. "I don't think our game is that much different on the road or at home. We know what systems we want to run it's just a matter of executing.''
Monday: Canucks at Panthers
When/Where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSFL; WQAM 560
Series: Vancouver leads 12-8-6
Noteworthy: The Panthers have won three of the past four meetings between the two. Vancouver has won its past two at Philadelphia and Carolina by a combined 7-0.