SUNRISE, Fla. — Goals have been hard to come by for the Florida Panthers during their disappointing homestand. They’re hoping things will change in the finale Thursday against Minnesota.
In losing in regulation to Ottawa, Washington and Anaheim over the past week, the Panthers scored only three goals. It’s their lowest-scoring three-game stretch of the season.
The reasons for the scoring woes include a struggling power play, the absence of three regular defensemen and some occasional overpassing.
Coach Kevin Dineen also believes his team has to stop letting the opponent dictate the pace of the game.
“For us, our speed game needs to first and foremost come as a factor in every game,” he said after Thursday’s optional morning skate. “A lot of times we’re starting in our own zone and we feel that if we can play solid defense it can transition into good offense. If we get our speed going, that opens up the opportunities in the other zone.”
The Panthers, who will go into Thursday’s game tied with Winnipeg atop the Southeast Division with 65 games but with four games in hand, are coming off a 2-0 loss to Anaheim on Sunday.
Florida outshot the Ducks 31-27 but had few quality scoring chances.
The power play didn’t help, going 0-for-4. In a 2-1 loss Friday to Washington, the Panthers were 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
“It obviously becomes an issue when you’re in tight-checking, tight-scoring games,” Dineen said. “When you get a man advantage, you have to take advantage of it. We’re certainly aware that our power play needs to produce. Sometimes it might not be goals on the board, but it’s walking out of there with what I call feel good, that you walk out it’s up-tempo, opportunities present themselves, and the game carries on from there. But it would certainly be nice to score more consistently on the power play like we did earlier in the year.”
Kris Versteeg, who leads the team in scoring with 48 points, says low-scoring games are to be expected at this time of year.
“I guess you just keep the pedal to the metal is one thing you’re going to do,” Versteeg said. “The power play has got to get us some goals here now. We’ve also got to work hard to draw some penalties to get us on the power play. It comes hand in hand. We’re just going to keep doing what we do. We’ve been throwing a lot of pucks at the net.”