Blue Jackets host Panthers tonight on Fox Sport Ohio

BY foxsports • December 9, 2009

By MATT BEARDMORE
STATS Writer

Scoring in the third period hasn't been the problem for the Florida Panthers recently. Maintaining a late-game lead, though, has been a major concern.

The Panthers look to avoid their fourth straight loss Wednesday at Nationwide Arena where they'll face the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have also dropped eight of nine.

Despite Dominic Moore's power-play goal 1:25 into the third period -- his second score of the game -- Florida (11-13-6) could not hold on to a 2-1 advantage over Edmonton on Monday, falling 3-2 in a shootout.

"We have to continue to be positive," said Moore, who scored a third-period goal Dec. 2 when the Panthers held on for a 6-5 shootout victory after leading 5-3 with 12:19 remaining in regulation. "It's easy to get down when you don't get the results you think you deserve."

Florida was defeated by Atlanta 2-1 in a shootout on Monday after Panthers leading goal scorer Stephen Weiss tallied the go-ahead score in the opening minutes of the third.

The Panthers have failed to maintain a third-period lead three times in four games, giving up seven goals in the third period.

"This is like Groundhog Day," said coach Peter DeBoer, whose team is 1-4-4 since winning five of six from Nov. 12-21. "I thought we played a pretty good game. I think most nights that you play like that you're going to win."

Florida, which has dropped three straight on the road, begins its four-game trip with its first visit to Columbus since a 5-2 victory Nov. 21, 2007.

Tomas Vokoun made 34 saves in that matchup as he won his seventh consecutive start versus the Blue Jackets. Vokoun, though, is 0-1-4 with a 2.58 GAA in his last six starts.

If Vokoun gets the start, he'll face a Columbus team that's also struggling defensively. The Blue Jackets (13-11-5), who are among the league's worst with 3.4 goals allowed per game, are giving up an average of 3.8 during their 1-5-3 slide.

"We have to develop our own hunger," coach Ken Hitchcock said following Saturday's 3-2 loss to Colorado. "That's the game of hockey. It goes to the team that is most hungry. We have not shown that consistency game to game, period to period."

Steve Mason, the reigning Calder Trophy winner, made 16 saves Saturday and is 0-2-1 with a 3.90 GAA during Columbus' three-game slide. Mason, though, made 22 saves in a 3-1 victory at Florida on March 21.

Vokoun stopped 34 shots in that contest.

Blue Jackets forward Jason Chimera looks to find the back of the net in three straight games after scoring a third-period goal Saturday. Chimera, who assisted on Jakub Voracek's goal with 4:28 left, had a potential game-tying score waved off with 13.7 seconds remaining after a replay showed his shot did not cross between the posts.

"I wasn't celebrating too much because I knew it was close," Chimera said. "But I kind of batted it and it looked like it kind of went under the post."


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