By Bill Whitehead
SUNRISE — Just when the Florida Panthers thought it couldn’t get much worse, it did on Monday night.
The Panthers closed a woeful four-game homestand by being blanked by goaltender Ben Scrivens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, losing 3-0 and wasting another opportunity to gain points in the Southeast Division standings.
It’s a scene the Panthers (4-7-4) seem to have perfected over the past week, this time in front of 17,177 at the BB&T Center.
Florida squandered two-goal leads late in two of its three home overtime losses on the home stretch, dropping games in the extra session to Washington and Tampa Bay. Between those two, the Panthers fell 1-0 to Montreal in overtime.
Three points in four games — not exactly what coach Kevin Dineen was searching for before the club leaves for Pennsylvania and games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
“Personally, I think our power play sucked the life out of us,” Dineen said. “We didn’t get anything generated, yet we didn’t respond very well to that. That’s an area we have to keep working on and have our special teams give us a boost instead of going 0-fer on the one side and giving up the big goal on the other.
“We just didn’t give the effort tonight. That’s part of the identity of our team, but we’re not doing it for 60 minutes.”
Florida had excellent chances in the opening 20 minutes but couldn’t beat Scrivens, who stood strong against Ottawa over the weekend for his first career shutout.
The former Cornell University netminder was the real star for Toronto (10-6-0) early, fending off multiple scoring chances by Florida, including rookie Jonathan Huberdeau’s slick feed to Alex Kovalev, who was stuffed 1-on-1 by Scrivens.
Phil Kessel, much maligned over his 10-game start without a goal, took a pass from James Van Riemsdyk following Mike Weaver’s turnover just inside the offensive zone. Kessel skated in and beat Florida goaltender Jose Theodore on the short side.
Florida put itself in a bigger hole in the second when Nazem Kadri banged in a power-play goal from the slot for the 2-0 lead. Clarke MacArthur scored just over a minute later from a nice pass from Kadri after Brian Campbell crossed over to help out, leaving MacArthur alone for his third goal.
Campbell’s post-game comments:
Scrivens stopped 37 Florida shots after beating Ottawa with 34 saves in a 3-0 win over the Senators on Saturday night.
Drew Shore on missing chances:
Florida travels to Philadelphia to face the Flyers on Thursday night. The Panthers won 3-2 in a shootout on Feb. 7 in Philadelphia after Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller scored in the shootout and goalie Jose Theodore stopped both Flyer attempts. The Panthers then play in western Pennsylvania Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.