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Florida Panthers fail to bounce back in loss to Montreal Canadiens

Rare was the time last season when the Panthers followed up one clunker of a game with another.

No, one reason the Panthers broke their NHL-record playoff drought was their ability to bounce back from defeat and pick up points after a loss.

On Tuesday, Florida simply got bounced.

The Bell Center was rocking like it rarely did last season as the Canadiens won their first game of the season by rolling past the Panthers 4-1. The Panthers won all four against the Canadiens last season as the storied franchise finished last in the conference.

Florida was shut out 4-0 in Ottawa on Monday night and fell behind early once again in Montreal.

“This isn’t last year. This is a new year,” Stephen Weiss said. “We can’t look at last year and say, ‘We did this, we did that.’ This is a new hockey club, and we need to build our own identity and figure out what we need to do to be successful with the players we have in this room.”

The Panthers, 1-0 on home ice after beating Carolina 5-1 in the season opener, play host to Ottawa on Thursday and the reeling Flyers on Saturday as they try to get on track in a truncated season.

Last year, the Panthers lost consecutive games in regulation — getting no points — only four times. With just 45 games to go, the Panthers can’t afford to not get points in too many games.

The Panthers opened Tuesday’s game much like they played most of Monday’s as Montreal dominated puck possession for a good portion of the first period.

Goalie Scott Clemmensen, who made 29 saves, gave up his first goal 3:26 in to Tomas Plekanec.

Later, Montreal scored off a two-man advantage with Brian Campbell and Weiss in the box as Andrei Markov scored off a long-range slapper.

The Panthers cut the deficit to one in the second period when Tomas Kopecky whipped a wrister from the right circle on Florida’s third power play of the night.

Kopecky’s goal, Florida’s first since Alex Kovalev scored early in the second period of Saturday’s win over Carolina, gave the Panthers some short-lived momentum as Montreal scored four minutes later.

With 5:35 left in the second, Alex Galchenyuk made it a 4-1 game as he camped in front of the net and deflected a shot from Brandon Prust. The puck clipped Galchenyuk’s stick and squirted over Clemmensen’s shoulder and made a home in the back of the net.

Florida had a long power-play chance early in the third when Tomas Fleischmann took a punch from Ryan White that earned White an ejection. Fleischmann was called for boarding Josh Gorges and took an unsportsmanlike call as scraps broke out around the ice.

Coach Kevin Dineen took umbrage at Fleischmann — not known as a physical nor dirty player — taking a cheap shot from White.

“It was a play when a guy sees who he’s going to jump, and he took advantage,” Dineen said. “That’s not a very brave play.”

Despite having a five-minute power play — including 96 seconds in which Florida had a two-man advantage — the Panthers did next to nothing and went three-plus minutes without registering a single shot.

“That was a sign of how our jump was all night,” said Scottie Upshall, who had the lone shots of that power play. “We had flashes of energy, drive and battle. We’re facing some adversity right off the bat. This was a rebound game for us. We have to start better.”

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