The Florida Panthers finished off their season-long five game road trip last night with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames. The loss gives the Panthers a 2-2-1 record on their trip. Florida came back from down 3-1 in the third period to claim a point but ultimately fell in a six round shootout.
Tim Thomas, making his eight straight start, took the loss stopping 21 of 24 shots faced. Thomas also allowed three goals on six shootout attempts, he came into the game having stopped all six shots faced this season in the skills competition. Reto Berra got the win for the Flames stopping 22 of 25 shots faced and four of six in the shootout. Brad Boyes and Tomas Fleischmann scored in the shootout for Florida while Jiri Hudler, Mike Cammalleri, and Sean Monahan scored for Calgary. The Flames improved to 8-11-4 while the Panthers fell to 6-13-5. With 17 points, Florida currently sits nine points behind the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the first period when Tom Gilbert fired a seeing-eye shot past Berra off a nice Nick Bjugstad face-off win. The goal was Gilbert’s first of the season and his first as a Panthers. Bjugstad recorded his seventh assist on the goal, he finished the five game trip with four points, all assists.
Two second period goals for the Flames gave Calgary a 2-1 lead. At 9:00 into the second Joe Colborne fired a puck past Thomas from the left face-off dot after a Mike Mottau defensive turnover. Calgary’s second goal came on the power play at 12:04 when Sven Baertschi calmly slotted home a rebound in front of the Florida net.
Blair Jones put the Flames up 3-1 at 5:40 into the third when Dmitry Kulikov, Erik Gudbranson and Aleksander Barkov all got caught too low in the defensive zone leaving Jones uncontested in the slot. The Panthers responded by scoring an unconventional goal just two minutes later. The goal was scored after a Jimmy Hayes blocked shot at the point led to a Shawn Matthias break the other way. In an attempt to beat Matthias to the puck, Berra came out of his net, almost to the blue line, to poke-check the puck from Matthias. Berra succeeded in getting to the puck first but he ended up poking the puck directly to Hayes who was following up the play. Hayes finished into the open net for his first goal of the season and his first goal as a Panther.
Marcel Goc tied the game at 14:01 into the third when he snuck a shot past Berra from just below the right face-off dot. Goc was assisted by Sean Bergenheim and Scott Gomez, both of whom were filling in for the injured Tomas Kopecky and Jesse Winchester. The injuries to Winchester and Kopecky were deemed as minor by Panthers coach Peter Horachek, although the exact timetable for their return is still unclear.
The Panthers finished their road trip with five out of a possible ten points. Overall the trip has to be considered a success as the Panthers looked good in wins against Colorado and Vancouver and also played well in a loss at Minnesota. Losing two straight to the Western Conferences bottom two teams dampens some of the good mood but in the Panthers defense, the losses came on the back end of a brutal travel schedule and Edmonton and Calgary are tough places to play regardless of who the opponent has on the ice.
The Panthers return to Florida and will have two days off before starting a five-game home stand on Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers. The home stand also includes the Rangers, Penguins, Senators and the Jets.