Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers lose to Ottawa Senators, blow chance to move into playoff spot

Ottawa Senators' Kyle Turris (7) prepares to shoot the puck and score as Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo (1) and teammate Brian Campbell react during first period NHL hockey action in Ottawa, Ontario on Feb, 21, 2015.
Ottawa Senators' Kyle Turris (7) prepares to shoot the puck and score as Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo (1) and teammate Brian Campbell react during first period NHL hockey action in Ottawa, Ontario on Feb, 21, 2015. AP

It wasn’t the fact that his team missed an opportunity to grab a hold of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

It wasn’t even the fact that they fell 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.

What had Panthers coach Gerald Gallant upset in the postgame was how his team played during the game.

“I didn’t like our game at all. We didn’t play well at all, we didn’t work hard, we didn’t compete hard, and it was the longest night for me behind the Florida bench this year,” Gallant said.

“We had a few chances in the first period, and I thought Ottawa played well and they moved the puck, but we didn’t have any work ethic, and I thought we played a real poor game.”

Aleksander Barkov scored the lone goal for the Panthers, who missed an opportunity to overtake the Bruins for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. Roberto Luongo made 35 saves in the loss.

“It was a wasted opportunity, and it was a tough one, but we just have to put this one behind us and move on,” said Luongo, who was the reason the game was as close as it was, as the Panthers were outshot 39-22.

“It was one of those games where we didn’t have it. Coming into the third we were down one, which is a situation we’ve become accustomed to, but for some reason we didn’t have the period we wanted to.”

Erik Karlsson scored at 8:03 of the third period to give the Senators a 3-1 lead, and Curtis Lazar put the game out of reach with a breakaway goal at 12:09.

“I’ve got to make that save on Karlsson to keep it 2-1 and give the boys a chance. He shot it against the grain and it was a good shot, but I want to make that save,” Luongo said.

“It’s a disappointing night for everybody.”

Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan also scored for the Senators, who won back-to-back games for the first time in exactly seven weeks.

Andrew Hammond made 21 saves, collecting his second win in a row in just his second NHL start.

Ottawa entered the third period with a 2-1 lead thanks to Ryan’s go-ahead goal at 8:40 of the second period.

Although it officially wasn’t a power-play goal, Ryan tipped a point shot past Luongo at the exact moment the tripping penalty to Tomas Kopecky came to an end.

On the stats page, it appeared Florida was fortunate to be down only one goal after 40 minutes, considering the Panthers were outshot 26-15 over that span.

But Kopecky didn’t agree.

“I wouldn’t say that. I had two really good scoring chances, and I have to score on those,” Kopecky said. “I take full responsibility, but their goalie played really well, and you have to give him credit.”

The Panthers opened the scoring at 7:38 of the first period just seconds after they had a goal called off because the official had blown his whistle prior to the puck entering the net.

After the ensuing faceoff the puck came to Barkov at the top of the crease and his wrist shot beat Hammond, barely making its way across the goal line.

The Senators tied the game a little less than three minutes later when Turris took a pass beside the net from Mark Stone and deposited it into the Florida goal behind Luongo.

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