Another Disappointing Loss…Florida Panthers Game Recap — Game 42 @ Dallas Stars:

FLA: 1 | DAL: 4 FINAL

At this point in the season I think it’s safe to say that this Florida Panthers team REALLY needs their beauty sleep prior to games, because when they play in the matinee game time slots they just play like a completely different team. The Panthers would choose to go with Sergei Bobrovsky in net this afternoon, and the Stars would elect to go with Anton Khudobin.

From the opening puck drop of this game it was clear to everyone watching that the Panthers did not show up to play this game today. Dallas rookie sensation Jason Robertson scored his 10th goal of the season exactly one minute into the game, assisted by Roope Hintz (17) and Joel Pavelski (21). It was a broken defensive effort from Gustav Forsling that allowed Robertson to skate in close on Bobrovsky for an easy scoring chance. If that wasn’t a bad enough start, less than 50 seconds later Dallas would double their lead as the Stars would intercept a poor stretch pass from Radko Gudas allowing Justin Dowling to skate in 2-on-1 with Joel L’Esperance. Dowling would sauce a clean pass to L’Esperance for an easy goal, which would be his second of the season. Less than two minutes into the game Dallas would take a 2–0 lead.

(Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

For the Panthers, the poor play would not just end there. The Panthers would take a penalty as Radko Gudas would get called for boarding against Rhett Gardner at 8:41. Dallas’ Power Play has been scorching hot in recent games, and they would make Florida pay early. Jamie Benn would score his eighth goal of the season, this one on the Power Play at 9:03 assisted by Joel Pavelski (22) and Roope Hintz (18). Less than 10 minutes into the game and the Panthers were down 3–0. Mercifully the period would end without any further scoring, and the Panthers would head into the first intermission down 3–0.

From the start of the second period onward, there was hardly any pressure on the Dallas Stars, and their play resembled it. They were not concerned with the Panthers’ attack at all, and they knew that if they could just keep the Panthers to the outside then they could get plenty of blocked shots against them (and boy did they). The Dallas Stars in this game had 28 (!) blocked shots against the Panthers, while the Panthers only blocked 7 of the Dallas shot attempts. Florida could do nothing to get in behind the Dallas defense to get quality chances against Khudobin. The shots that the Panthers WERE able to get through were very low-danger, and easy saves for Khudobin to make. Playing with a 3-goal cushion also makes a goaltender feel very confident in the net, so that didn’t help the Panthers in any way. The Panthers would at least not be shutout in two straight games, as they would add a Power Play goal by Aleksander Barkov in the dying seconds of the second period. Barkov’s PPG would be assisted by Patric Hornqvist (16).

(Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Aleksander Barkov scores his 17th goal of the season, this one on the Power Play at 19:58 in the second period. Assisted by Patric Hornqvist (16).

The Panthers would head into the second intermission down 3–1, needing a major comeback performance in the third period to secure any points out of this game.

Any hope that the Panthers had at a potential comeback in this game was shot down early, as Jason Robertson would score his 11th goal of the season (2nd of the game) at 1:21 in the third period. The goal would be unassisted. The Panthers just did not show up to play in today’s afternoon game, which has been a terrible trend for the early games this season. The shot total was pretty low for both sides in this game, as Florida would barely out-shoot Dallas 21–20. Of course when you factor in the fact that Dallas blocked 28 of Florida’s shot attempts in this game the final shot total could have looked much worse. Florida could only muster 6 shots on goal in the third period despite being down 4–1, and with that type of performance they would have never even come close to making this a competitive game. The final horn would sound, and Dallas would claim victory with a 4–1 final score.

Florida will not play again before the NHL’s trade deadline on Monday afternoon. GM Bill Zito has already made one move by bringing in Defenseman Brandon Montour from Buffalo, but I have a sense that the moves are not quite done. This team needs a spark plug right now, because the last few games have been very uninspiring.

The Three Stars in this game:

  1. Roope Hintz, LW (DAL): 2 assists
  2. Anton Khudobin, G (DAL): 20 saves on 21 shots, W

Florida will need to right the ship, and quickly if they plan on staying in the race with Carolina and Tampa Bay for first in the Central Division. They play the Dallas Stars again on Tuesday, April 13th. That game will begin at 8 p.m. ET.

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Joseph London

South Florida sports fan. Mostly cover the Florida Panthers NHL team, but also scattered stories about the Dolphins, Heat, and Marlins! Thank you for reading.