Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers kick off rough California swing in San Jose

Florida’s Derek MacKenzie and San Jose’s Joe Thornton hit the glass during a game at the BB&T Center on November 10.
Florida’s Derek MacKenzie and San Jose’s Joe Thornton hit the glass during a game at the BB&T Center on November 10. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The Florida Panthers seemed to enjoy their time in Nashville.

Now, it’s time to buckle down and get to work.

Florida kicked off its five-game road trip with a rousing 7-4 win over the host Predators on Saturday afternoon, scoring four times in the second period to break things open.

Now on the west coast, the Panthers have three games in four nights against Pacific Division powers San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles.

The Panthers play the defending Western Conference champion Sharks Wednesday with a Southern Cal back-to-back set on Friday and Saturday nights.

“This is a tough arena to come into,” Nick Bjugstad said. “We have to be ready for the environment, they come hard the first 10 minutes and their fans are really into it. We have to be ready like we were in Nashville.”

The Panthers have been playing well of late with the exception of last week’s 6-3 stinker against the Kings at BB&T Center.

Coming off their union-negotiated ‘bye week,’ the Panthers looked two steps slow against a desperate Los Angeles team which was gearing up for its time off.

The Kings scattered after their South Florida win and play host to Arizona on Thursday with the Panthers coming to Staples Center on Saturday.

Florida knows it wasted a nice opportunity against the Kings as its first three-game winning streak of the season came to a crashing halt.

The Panthers have won four of their past five going into Wednesday’s nationally-televised late game on NBC Sports Net.

“The tough part is we didn’t come out with the effort we wanted so it could be five-in-a-row for us right now,” captain Derek MacKenzie said.

“At five games, you’re rolling, right? We just have to find that consistency in our game. It’s exciting to have our lineup back, but we have to just keep our heads down and keep chugging along.”

Aside from the Los Angeles loss — one in which the score amazingly looked closer than it was as the Kings led 6-1 early in the second and Florida picked up two goals late in the third — the Panthers have been playing well of late.

Florida’s power play has picked up three goals in its past five games with the offense scoring season-high goals twice during this span.

The seven goals scored in Nashville was the most this season topping the six scored against Ottawa.

On the flip side, Florida has given up 15 goals in three of its past four games. The Panthers beat Anaheim 2-1 on Feb. 3.

“We know these games are very important to us to start climbing the standings and get ourselves into a playoff spot,” Aaron Ekblad said. “Getting seven goals any night is great, but four against us isn’t. We need to stick to two-or-less every night.”

Wednesday: Panthers at Sharks

When/where: 10:30 p.m.; SAP Center, San Jose.

TV/radio: NBCSN; WQAM 560 (following UM basketball), WZAB 880, WMEN 640.

Series: San Jose leads 13-11-7.

Scouting report: This is the second meeting between the teams with the Sharks winning 4-2 in Sunrise on Nov. 10. San Jose snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Devils on Sunday.

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