Until they stop blowing leads, a playoff berth for the Florida Panthers is very unlikely.
Florida tries to rebound from a very disappointing loss when it closes a four-game homestand against the Washington Capitals.
Florida built a 3-0 lead after one period Wednesday against Colorado before allowing the first three scores in the second period. Alex Tanguay’s third goal of the game with 5:41 left in regulation gave the Avalanche a 6-5 victory.
“That’s our problem, we get ahead and then we seem to get away from our game,” Florida’s Marcus Nilson said. “Once we get the lead, we have a problem playing the same way for 60 minutes. A team like that has a lot of firepower.”
“It’s going to be a tough game for any goalie,” Luongo said. “I tried to do my best, but obviously I wasn’t that successful.”
Florida, 1-3-1-1 in its last six games, remained 12th in the Eastern Conference.
Already missing forward Viktor Kozlov and defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Branislav Mezei, the Panthers were without defenseman Mike Van Ryn for most of Wednesday’s game. According to Florida coach Rick Dudley, Van Ryn was hit with a high stick from Colorado’s Peter Worrell.
A coaching change last month hasn’t been able to get the Capitals into playoff contention. They are 6-9-4-1 since Glen Hanlon replaced Bruce Cassidy, and 14 points behind the eighth-place New York Islanders.
Washington had earned a point in a season-best five straight games before a 3-2 loss to visiting Toronto on Wednesday.
“Every point counts now, especially in our case,” Washington’s Sergei Gonchar said. “We’re way behind and to catch up we have to get every possible point of it, and today was a game when we needed to get at least one.”
The Capitals could have center Dainius Zubrus back in the lineup Friday. Zubrus, out since Dec. 31 with a broken foot, is fifth on the team with 23 points in 38 games.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 21): Capitals - 35 points, 5th place, 16 PB, Southeast Division. Panthers - 43 points, 3rd place (tied), 8 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Robert Lang, 23 goals and 57 points; Gonchar, 38 assists; Brendan Witt, 67 PIM. Panthers - Valeri Bure and Olli Jokinen, 15 goals; Bure, 16 assists and 31 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 101 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 21): Capitals - Power play: 20.8 percent (41 for 197), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.7 percent (177 for 214), 24th. Panthers - Power play: 16.5 percent (26 for 158), 10th. Penalty killing: 82.8 percent (169 for 204), 23rd.
SEASON SERIES: Panthers, 1-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 17; 2-2 tie. At Sunrise, Fla., Weiss scored on the power play midway through the second period and Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 6-15-2-1 on the road; Panthers - 9-9-5-2 at home.