Road winning streak ends with Panthers’ 5-2 loss to Calgary

Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography
Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography
The Panthers’ flame was no match for Calgary’s on Tuesday night.

Just about everything that seemed to be building over the past several games fell apart as Florida was handed a 5-2 loss at the Flames’ Scotiabank Saddledome.

Despite Vincent Trocheck scoring twice in a span of less than 5 minutes to bookend a Kris Versteeg marker in the 1st period, Calgary roared back in the 2nd with 3 goals, including 2 which came 13 seconds apart off the stick of Mikael Backlund.

The team-leading 15th and 16th goals of the season by the Panthers’ 23-year old All-Star overshadowed what was hardly a dominant period as they managed just 5 shots to Calgary’s 10. The shot differential was widened to 13 in the Flames’ favor after the middle frame.

Glimmers of hope came when twice the Panthers challenged Calgary goals and had them successfully overturned for being offside both times. Dougie Hamilton and Lance Bouma had their goals taken away in the 2nd and 3rd periods respectively, but despite that, the Panthers failed to get any momentum with the Flames controlling the play without much trouble at all.

The Flames finally scored their 5th goal of the game on their 3rd try after Sean Monahan deposited the puck into an empty net with 2:08

Four penalties committed by the Panthers led to 2 straight power play goals for Calgary, while they were unable to convert on any of their 4 chances, 3 of which came in the 3rd period. Puck management was poor all night long with passes not connecting, and the Panthers couldn’t get their forecheck – or any offensive pressure for that matter – going for just about the entire game.

Entering Tuesday night’s game – the first of a back-to-back in Canada – the Panthers had won 4 straight games on the road and were fresh off a solid 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the NHL’s best team, on Saturday. They’d also won 5 of their last 8 games, although the 3 losses were letdowns after inspiring victories.

Although the Panthers have been without several key players – the team’s injuries have been well documented – it’s unclear what is at the root of the team’s inconsistencies. The Panthers’ sudden collapse and lack of awareness was eerily reminiscent of the 3-2 loss in Carolina at the end of November that ended with the firing of Gerard Gallant as the team’s head coach.

The 2nd period was easily one of the worst of the year for the Panthers, and the effort level was way down after the first half of the opening period, something one couldn’t have necessarily foreseen after Saturday’s effort and their recent road success.

On Wednesday, the Edmonton Oilers will host the Panthers at Rogers Place for the first time. The Oilers defeated the bottom-feeding Coyotes on Monday 3-1, but they’re not the same team as in the past. Connor McDavid holds the league lead in scoring with 51 points while Leon Draisaitl is second on the team with 39 points.

The two teams last met just over a year ago when the Panthers notched the 12th and final win of their franchise-record winning streak with a 2-1 score.

Post-game notes: F Seth Griffith was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row while F Denis Malgin also sat out after playing on Saturday. … D Dylan McIlrath was recalled from his conditioning stint in the AHL on Monday, and while he didn’t play on Tuesday against the Flames, he is expected to play Wednesday. … F Vincent Trocheck has 15 points in his last 11 games, including 8 goals and 7 assists. He also has 4 multi-point performances in his last 5 games. … F Jared McCann recorded his 4th and 5th assists on Trocheck’s two 1st-period goals. Both were primary assists and he now has 3 points in 7 games during his 2nd stint with the Panthers this season.
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