High-scoring Panthers crash back to earth with one goal, a rare blowout loss in Calgary

Jeff McIntosh/AP
·4 min read

The Florida Panthers knew the good times couldn’t last forever — at least not in the way they went for the last three weeks. They knew they couldn’t average six goals per game for the rest of the season or threaten 10-goal outbursts every time they take the ice. The last three weeks were something of a miracle — a legitimately historic scoring binge, which vaulted the Panthers to the top of the NHL standings and put them on pace for one of the best offensive seasons in 30 years.

Even the best offenses can’t score four or five goals every single night, though, and Florida ran into one of those rare off nights to kick off its latest five-game road trip in Canada. It took the Panthers more than 32 minutes to finally score, and by then they were down two goals to the Calgary Flames and headed to a 5-1, blowout loss in Alberta.

“We probably didn’t really come prepared to play here early and it’s on me. We weren’t prepared to pay the price tonight and it’s going to happen, games like this,” interim coach Andrew Brunette said. “We had some opportunities to get our game back tonight and it didn’t happen.”

The loss ended a nine-game points streak for Florida (26-8-5) and drops the Panthers to 5-7-3 outside of South Florida this season. The Panthers have lost 10 of their last 13 on the road.

This one was, mostly, uncharacteristic. The Flames (18-11-6) held Florida to just one goal for the first time in more than a month and only the third time all season. It was also the Panthers’ first regulation loss in more than a month and only their fifth multi-goal loss of the season. Florida had only 11 shots on goal in the first period and only eight in the second. The Panthers lead the NHL in shots on goal per game and Calgary outshot them 31-29 despite playing nearly the entire game with a lead.

“All season, I feel like it’s been like that — teams know when they come into place or when they’re coming into our building, it’s going to be a game,” left wing Mason Marchment said. “We’ve just got to bring it every night.”

Florida’s only goal came with 7:24 left in the second period when forward Sam Bennett, playing in from of 9,639 at the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first time since the Flames traded him to the Panthers last year, beat Calgary goaltender Jacob Markstrom to cut the Flames’ lead to 2-1. It briefly sparked Florida, which tested Markstrom three more times in the next three minutes before a penalty gave the Flames a power play and a chance to get the goal back. Calgary center Sean Monahan scored the Flames’ second power-play goal with 3:57 left in the second period and the Panthers’ latest comeback bid fell short.

The issues weren’t just on the offensive end, either. Rookie goaltender Spencer Knight made his first start of 2022 — he was dealing with COVID-19 earlier this month — and struggled in his first action in nearly three weeks, right from the opening moments. When Calgary finally put together its first solid possession, Knight gave up a couple long rebounds and the Flames made Florida pay when Calgary defenseman Rasmus Anderson scored the opening goal off a rebound with 15:24 left in the first period.

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The Flames pushed the lead to 2-0 with 8:24 left in the first when a centering pass got by three Panthers, plus Knight, and Flames winger Blake Coleman knocked in a one-timer. Calgary beat Knight again in the second and then twice more in the third period.

Knight, who has been far from the Calder Memorial Trophy contender Florida hoped he’d be, finished with 26 saves on 31 shots and now has a .882 save percentage, but the Panthers’ defense was as much to blame Tuesday. Florida gave up 11 high-danger chances and matched its worst mark of the season by giving up goals on five of those opportunities.

Patric Hornqvist leaves with injury

Patric Hornqvist went down with an upper-body injury in the second period and did not return.

The Panthers were not immediately sure about the extent of the injury and said the right wing will be re-evaluated Wednesday.

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