The Florida Panthers know they have only themselves to blame for their rough start.
Looking to avoid their first six-game skid in almost two years, the Panthers try to get back on track against the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
Since opening with a 5-1 home victory over Carolina on Jan. 19, Florida (1-5-0) has been outscored 23-5.
“I don’t think we’ve really played a good game yet,” defenseman Filip Kuba said. “It’s obviously embarrassing when you lose five straight, but it’s not the right time to put our heads down and feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got another game coming, and we’ve got 40-something more left.
“We’ve got to quickly figure out what we’ve got to do to get ready and play better.”
In danger of dropping six in a row for the first time since an 0-7-3 stretch March 19-April 8, 2011, the Panthers can start by fixing a dismal power play that’s gone 2 for 24 during the slide and 0 for 8 in the last two. Making matters worse, Florida’s last five opponents have gone 8 for 25 with the man advantage after the Panthers killed all six penalties against the Hurricanes.
“I hate to say we deserve to be where we are right now. … It’s a matter of us deciding how we’re going to deal with it, and we will,” coach Kevin Dineen said.
Peter Mueller and Tomas Fleischmann scored unassisted goals but the Panthers managed six first-period shots and never led in a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Jose Theodore made 28 saves in falling to 1-4-0 with a 3.48 goals-against average.
“Obviously, right now we’re not getting any bounces, but we don’t deserve them,” forward Tomas Kopecky said. “We are not working hard. We are not competing hard enough, and all the 50-50 pucks, the other team is winning and we’ve got to change it. And it’s got to change right now. It’s too late right now, actually, so everybody here is fed up.”
The Panthers went 3-1-2 versus Winnipeg in 2011-12, but are 1-2-3 at home against the Jets franchise over the past two seasons. Fleischmann had three goals and two assists in three home matchups last season while Theodore posted a 5.01 GAA in losing the last two overall against the Jets.
Winnipeg (3-2-1) looks to bounce back after its three-game winning streak ended with a 4-3 loss at Montreal on Tuesday. Olli Jokinen had a goal and an assist and Blake Wheeler also scored as the Jets overcame a 2-0 deficit, but the Canadiens responded with the final two goals.
Despite its early success, Winnipeg has allowed the first goal in four consecutive games.
“You can’t keep giving up goals early in the first period and expect that you’re going to come back, it’s just not the right way to play,” coach Claude Noel said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re home or on the road, it’s just a recipe for disaster.”
Wheeler has scored all three of his goals in the last four games but has one in his previous six against the Panthers.
Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec, who made 22 saves Tuesday, is 5-0-0 with a 2.31 GAA at Florida.