Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 11/7/11

By Bill Whitehead

If you’re a standings watcher and like to see who’s hot and who’s not, venture out to the far right-hand column in the current NHL standings. That’s where you’ll find the streak column. In the row that contains the Florida Panthers, the third-place team in the Southeast Division, you’ll see this — OT3.

That column is revealing, but the one that’s most difficult to come to grips with is definitely the one that’s fourth from the left — overtime losses. This past week the Florida Panthers (6-4-3) learned all too well what it’s like to cope with that OT column. Florida was taken to a shootout all three times during its three-game homestand.

Florida sped to a 3-0 lead over Tampa Bay in the opening 15:21 Sunday night at home. Goals by Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and Mike Santorelli chased Lightning goalie Mathieu Garon, but replacement Dwayne Roloson was stellar in stopping all 29 shots after that. Tampa rallied to tie and eventually beat Florida in a shootout on the lone goal from former Panther Dominic Moore.

“We seem to have the ability to chase games down and find a way to get points, but (blowing) a 3-0 lead is unacceptable, bottom line,” Florida defenseman Ed Jovanovski said in a somber dressing room. “I’m not saying we stopped playing, but in a sense we started watching a little bit and let them freewheel. We’ll take it as a learning lesson. What ends up happening is you wonder where these points have gone in March and April when you need them. We squandered away points. We should have three or four extra points.”

The Florida Panthers have plenty to be pleased about through 13 games. The team has shown tenacity in fighting back, snatching victory at Buffalo late and battling back to force Chicago into overtime Thursday. But there is huge disappointment also in Pantherland — big-time giveaways when it comes to points in the standings — through the first handful of games. No points in Ottawa after Kris Versteeg tied the game in the last minute was a heavy blow. Leading Winnipeg at home and being forced to overtime . Then the gift to Tampa Bay Sunday night after the most exciting 15 minutes of play this season.

Good teams — playoff teams and title contenders — get wins or points when they’re in position to and, more importantly, put away the teams they’re supposed two. Ottawa was riding a losing streak and should have been put away. Winnipeg is nothing more than Atlanta 2.0, but Florida certainly had trouble holding late leads with the Thrashers the last few seasons, regardless of controversial calls or two-goal leads with two minutes to play. Florida also appeared to have the Lightning’s number this year and should be 3-0 against the in-state rival.

If a club gets blown out 6-1 or wins 6-1, that’s easy to cope with from an emotional standpoint. But overtime gets dicey. Sometimes you feel lucky to get to overtime, like against Chicago or as it appeared to happen against Ottawa. In a six-point week at home that featured a trio of overtime games, Florida came away with three points, but on the low side should have had five, which would have bumped them . Those are just opportunities wasted and points the Panthers just won’t regain — and going 0-for-9 in shootout shots, well, that’s unacceptable.

I’m trying very hard to stay positive right now, but being positive is very trying after last week.

By Bill Whitehead
NHLHS Florida Panthers Credentialed Correspondent
Twitter: @BillWhiteheadFL
Email: BillWhiteheadFL@hotmail.com


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