The Panthers were handed yet another home loss on Thursday by the visiting St. Louis Blues, this time by a score a 6-3.
In a way, it was a painful reminder of what could’ve been. The last time the two teams met, Vincent Trocheck scored with less than 5 seconds remaining in the 3rd period en route to the Panthers’ fifth consecutive victory to sweep a 5-game road trip.
When he skated into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 rush and scored his 23rd goal of the season with a five-hole wrist laser on Thursday to end a 17-game goal-less drought, the stakes were much lower.
“It’s cliché, but I never really cared too much about the points, especially when we’re losing,” said an emotionless Trocheck after the game. “It would have been nice to get a win. I would have taken that over a goal.”
The Panthers have now lost 10 of their last 14 games and 17 of their last 22 games overall since winning 5 straight in mid-February.
Despite having no players out of the lineup like they did for most of the early part of the season, they collapsed into a bottom-dwelling team. The Panthers currently have the 5th-fewest points in the league at 77 and have the 3rd-worst home record in the NHL.
They also sit one point up on last place in the Atlantic Division and have lost 6 straight games, which is currently tied for the longest active losing streak in the league.
Thursday’s game was almost like a microcosm of the Panthers’ season. The Blues opened the scoring just past the halfway mark of the 1st period, and each time the Panthers scored, St. Louis would tie it up minutes later.
St. Louis responded to Trocheck’s goal 56 seconds later, and when Mike Matheson made it 2-2 with a wrap-around goal, David Perron one-upped him with a toe-drag move to make it 3-2 less than 4 minutes after.
Denis Malgin scored his first goal since November 15th and 5th of the season on a one-timer from the top of the right circle. Colton Sceviour earned the primary assist after he managed to backhand the puck to Malgin while being cross-checked to the ice.
With 3 shots and a +2 rating, the 20-year old Malgin was easily one of the most noticeable players on the ice for the Panthers despite finishing with just 12:58 of ice time.
The Panthers had nothing more to give after the 3rd goal as St. Louis piled on two more of their own to make it 5-3 before potting an empty-netter with 59 seconds remaining.
Adam Wilcox was returned to the AHL by the Panthers on Thursday as James Reimer started in net for the first time since leaving the March 28th game against Toronto with a head injury. He finished with 32 saves on 37 shots.
Ian McCoshen, the Panthers’ 2nd-round pick at the 2013 Draft, made his NHL debut. The 21-year old first-year pro was paired with Mark Pysyk and recorded his first NHL point with the secondary assist on Trocheck’s 1st-period goal.
McCoshen logged 13:47 in ice time with 1 hit and 1 block.
The Panthers will play their final home game of the season on Saturday against the Sabres before traveling to Washington on Sunday to close out the disappointing campaign. The team is expected to recall a forward as Shawn Thornton will play in his final NHL game on Saturday.