The Florida Panthers are no doubt glad to be playing at home.
Florida looks to bounce back from a brief but disappointing road trip Saturday when it meets the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Panthers (20-25-11) fell 4-2 at Minnesota on Thursday, wrapping up a two-game trip that also included a 5-4 overtime loss at Colorado two days earlier. They are just 6-15-8 on the road this season, giving them the fewest victories away from home in the NHL.
“It’s disappointing, but I thought we had a good effort,” coach Jacques Martin said of the trip. “You look at the number of players we have out. We’re missing (Jozef) Stumpel, we’re missing (Juraj) Kolnik, we’re missing (Todd) Bertuzzi, that’s a lot of scoring. The guys who played, played hard, and I think there’s some calls that hurt us.”
Florida is 6-2-1 in its last nine home games, but was pounded 7-0 by Los Angeles last Saturday in its last contest at the BankAtlantic Center. The Panthers have been outscored 16-6 during an overall three-game losing streak.
“It seems like the rebounds that came out went right out to players and they got an open net,” Horton said.
The Panthers allowed the Wild to score twice on three power-play chances Thursday and have given up eight power-play goals in their last five games.
“It seems like it happens every game,” Horton said. “We take a penalty and put ourselves in that position. They get a goal and it takes us right out of the game. They get a goal and then we can’t come back.”
Florida is hoping to get its penalty kill on track against the Coyotes (25-28-2), who have scored just one power-play goal in 19 chances in their last five games. That lone man-advantage score came in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss at Detroit, Phoenix’s fourth defeat in six games.
“We didn’t have enough of our players show up,” coach Wayne Gretzky said. “It seems like the same five or six guys keep coming to play, then we have too many passengers.
“They deserved to win, and we deserved what we got.”
Curtis Joseph made 44 saves but lost for the fifth time in eight starts. He had allowed just four goals in his previous four starts.
“We didn’t deserve to be in that game,” Doan said. “They outplayed us for pretty much the whole game, but we had an incredible goaltender. Whenever you get that type of goaltending, you should expect to win the game because it’s such an advantage. We let ‘Cuj’ down.”
This is the first meeting between these teams in Florida since a 2-1 win by the Coyotes on Oct. 15, 2003. Phoenix has just one loss—in overtime—in the last five matchups in the series, posting three wins and a tie.