Things are going so poorly for the Florida Panthers right now that just scoring a goal is a moral victory.
Punchless Florida tries to avoid its seventh straight loss Tuesday when it visits the Pittsburgh Penguins in a matchup of struggling teams.
Although they avoided being shut out for the fourth straight game, the Panthers (8-15-5) were unable to snap their losing streak as they dropped their sixth in a row, 3-1 to visiting Atlanta on Saturday.
"It's dead in this dressing room and we're playing dead on the ice," center Chris Gratton said. "We need a spark somehow. The atmosphere is flat right now and guys are walking on eggshells and playing tight."
It was the ninth loss in 11 games for Florida, which has been outscored 23-9 during the skid. The Panthers haven't dropped seven straight since March 31-April 10, 1999.
Captain Olli Jokinen scored with 2:49 left in the first period Saturday, ending a franchise-record scoring drought of 218 minutes, 42 seconds for the Panthers.
"Part of our problem is we lose so many battles and make so many mistakes and penalties," Jokinen said. "We can't point any fingers. We have to look at ourselves first before your teammates."
With only one goal in their past four games, scoring is obviously the biggest problem facing the Panthers. They are 1-12-3 when the opposition scores first, and their power play is 0-for-17 in the past four games.
Todd Bertuzzi was expected to provide offense after he was acquired in the Roberto Luongo deal, but the big forward has been sidelined since Oct. 18 with a back injury. Veteran center Joe Nieuwendyk has been limited to 15 games due to a back problem and Jokinen, the team leader with 26 points, has no goals in 14 road games this season.
The schedule certainly isn't going to provide any relief for the Panthers, who face first-place teams Buffalo and the New York Islanders after visiting Pittsburgh.
The Penguins (11-10-4) have cooled after a fast start, winning only four of their last 15 games, including losses in five of their last six.
Two second-period goals allowed proved costly as Pittsburgh fell 5-3 at home to the Islanders on Saturday.
Sidney Crosby and Ryan Whitney each had two assists for the Penguins, who blew a lead for the second consecutive night following a 5-2 loss Friday at New Jersey.
"We had a good start, but we lost focus in the second period," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "We made some crucial mistakes."
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury hopes to bounce back after losing his last two starts.
He stopped only four of eight shots before he was replaced by Jocelyn Thibault in the second period in the loss to the Devils. Fleury came up with 30 saves on Saturday, but even he knows he could've played better.
"(Friday) was tough for me," Fleury said. "I didn't play my best game, and I wasn't feeling my best (Saturday). I felt better, but it's still too many goals (against) for a goalie to have."
The Panthers had won 12 straight against the Penguins before a 5-1 loss on April 7. It was Pittsburgh's first win in the series since March 5, 2002.