Florida Panthers

Two-goal edge not enough as Panthers’ losing streak reaches five

Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, left, reacts as Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk celebrates his goal during third-period NHL hockey game action in Calgary, Alberta, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)
Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, left, reacts as Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk celebrates his goal during third-period NHL hockey game action in Calgary, Alberta, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) AP

A good effort on the second night of a back-to-back wasn’t enough for the Panthers to find their way into the win column, as their losing skid was extended to five games.

The Panthers were the better team for the first 25 minutes Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Equal parts energetic and opportunistic, the Panthers spotted themselves a two-goal lead after Mike Hoffman buried a Flames turnover and Jonathan Huberdeau scored on an early second-period power play.

But then the Western Conference-leading Flames woke up, with their highly-potent offense coming alive and goaltender David Rittich shutting the door en route to a 4-3 victory over the Panthers.

Panthers head coach Bob Boughner was pleased with his team’s defensive performance playing their second game in as many nights against a skilled offensive team.

“For a back-to-back game, you give up 24 shots, I thought we did a lot of good things. I thought we did enough to win the game,” Boughner said.

With the Panthers leading 2-0 after Huberdeau’s second period 12th goal, Flames head coach Bill Peters shortened his bench and shuffled his lines. His group seemed to find life, generating several scoring chances off the rush which culminated in a pair of goals — a tip-in from Michael Frolik and a point shot from Mark Giordano — which tied the game before the end of the period.

The Flames took the lead in the third period after an attempted clearing pass by Huberdeau ended up being was intercepted by Frolik inside the Panthers’ blueline by Frolik, who fed to a wide-open Matthew Tkachuk in front of the net.

Turnovers weren’t Florida’s friend on Friday night, but Boughner hesitated to blame the loss on any defensive miscues.

“It’s always magnified when it goes in the back of your net,” Boughner said. “And it’s a bad turnover on the third goal, guy standing all alone in front of the net. But we’ve had those chances on our side, too, on the last two nights and haven’t been able to execute on them.”

The Panthers did a lot of good things over in two nights in Alberta, but ended up leaving with just a single point to show for it — a product of their shootout setback in Edmonton. After a game in Calgary where both the Flames and Panthers made poor defensive decisions that led to scoring chances, Boughner pointed to a lack of execution from his team in offensive situations as leading to their loss.

“At the end of the day we had four or five glorious opportunities to go ahead in this game and get the next goal and we never did,” Boughner said. “Give their goalie some credit, he made some big saves. But even when it’s a one-goal game at the end we got a flat-out two-on-one and we’re shooting from the slot.

“So we had our looks. We didn’t bury on some of our chances which could’ve been the difference.”

The Panthers will seek to end their losing streak when they visit Vancouver on Sunday night.

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