For a few moments Saturday night, it looked like Scottie Upshall had recorded the second hat trick of his career.
Upshall saw Jimmy Hayes get his stick on the puck at the last moment, however, and knew the goal would be credited to Hayes after all.
A hat trick celebrated by just two baseball caps and a couple of rubber rats thrown onto the ice was taken away after lengthy review by off-ice officials. Florida then coughed up a 4-3 third-period lead and ended up losing 6-4 to the visiting Flames, only adding to Upshall’s disappointment.
For a guy who scored twice in a game for the first time in a year, Upshall sure looked miserable Saturday.
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“It wasn’t our best, and we had a really good stretch where we were holding teams to one or two goals,” Upshall said. “We found the goals [Saturday] but let off our defensive game. That’s a sign that we weren’t ready to play the full 60 minutes. It’s tough to commit yourself to playing 60 minutes of hockey, and we didn’t do that.”
Upshall wasn’t alone. There was plenty of disappointed players who realize Saturday’s game was a loss — and a lost opportunity for a third consecutive home win and another two points in the standings.
Instead, Florida picked up no points and goes into Tuesday’s game against San Jose riding a three-game losing streak.
The Panthers have scored four goals just twice this season. In the first, Florida won 4-3 over Colorado in overtime. On Saturday, the Panthers watched Calgary score three in the third and leave town with a win.
Florida hasn’t beaten the Flames since 2011.
“When you get a 3-1 lead, you need to stop the other team, and we were just too loose defensively,” Jussi Jokinen said. “We made too many mistakes. I liked how we played when we were up 3-1. It’s disappointing.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Tomas Fleischmann was benched Saturday but is expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday as coach Gerard Gallant alluded to in his postgame comments.
On Sunday, Florida sent rookie winger Rocco Grimaldi back to its minor-league team in San Antonio, opening up a spot for Fleischmann.
Florida could also get Dave Bolland (groin), Sean Bergenheim (lower body) and/or Brandon Pirri (concussion) back this week.
Fleischmann has no goals and an assist.
“Sometimes you take it as a positive, but I’m sure [Fleischmann] isn’t happy about it,” Gallant said. “I know when he comes back in the next game he’ll play hard and hopefully it goes well for him. It’s not that he’s been bad, but I thought other guys were better and that’s why we made the change. It was one game. He’ll play the next one.”
▪ Grimaldi made his NHL debut on Nov.1 against the Flyers and played in all four games before being sent back to the Rampage. Grimaldi started Saturday’s game on Florida’s top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jokinen.
▪ The Panthers will celebrate Military Appreciation Night on Tuesday by offering deeply discounted tickets to active military and veterans.
The team will wear special camouflage jerseys during warmups, with those jerseys auctioned off for charity.
Tuesday’s game will also be broadcast to troops stationed overseas on the American Forces Network.