Florida Panthers

Frequent journeys to the penalty box proving costly Florida Panthers

Head coach Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 25, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.
Head coach Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 25, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images

The Panthers have been one of the most penalized teams in the NHL this season with Saturday’s eight infractions being the most called so far.

The host Coyotes eventually cashed in on their numerous power-play chances, scoring both of their goals in a 2-1 overtime victory at Gila River Arena while skating with the advantage.

Arizona scored on its sixth and eighth power-play chances. The first one tied the score at 1 and helped forced overtime; the second one (from Oliver Ekman-Larsson) ended it.

Florida’s next game comes Thursday — at home against these same Coyotes.

“It was a close one, but penalties did us in,’’ said goalie Roberto Luongo, who was outstanding in making 39 saves, including 17 from the third period on.

“It’s frustrating when you lose. We have to be smarter. I don’t know how many we took tonight, and we’ll kill some, but in overtime a 4-on-3 is a tough kill. We weren’t able to get the job done.’’

Florida ended its four-game road trip with six of an available eight points — which it would have eagerly taken if offered before leaving Fort Lauderdale — although Saturday’s loss was definitely disappointing.

“You put yourself on the eight ball and make the game way harder than it needs to be,’’ Erik Gudbranson said. “It’s that simple. It was just too bad we lost that game. We played so well in the first and second, we dominated that team. It was such a great road trip we had going, so it’s a tough pill to swallow.’’

The Panthers have been called for 45 penalties this season with only Boston (47) getting hit for more. The Bruins, however, have played three extra games.

Florida found itself in an 8-2 power-play disadvantage Saturday, although the Panthers only really had one power-play chance as Jonathan Huberdeau was called for hooking 33 seconds into Florida’s first go with the advantage.

Coach Gerard Gallant said he’s getting frustrated with having so many penalties but said they are fixable.

“The guys are reaching with their sticks, we’ve taken a couple of high-sticking penalties,’’ Gallant said. “They are minor things, but they are penalties. You just have to take care of your stick on the ice and work a little bit harder. We have to stop reaching with our sticks and start playing harder with the body so we will get away from those penalties.’’

The Panthers switched up some power-play combinations on Saturday with Huberdeau, Brad Boyes and Aleksander Barkov at forward and Brian Campbell and Dylan Olsen on defense.

Florida came into Sunday with the 24th-ranked power play in the league with three goals in 27 chances (11 percent).

“It’s coming along,’’ Gallant said. “The power play is like anything else; when you work hard at it, you have success. In [Colorado] we got a big power-play goal in overtime. We’re getting more pucks to the net.’’

▪ The Panthers returned to South Florida from Arizona early Sunday morning and took the day off.

The team returns to practice at the Coral Springs IceDen on Tuesday at 11 a.m. All practices are free and open to the public.

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