Sports Outside the Beltway

Florida Panthers- Out of gas

Their playoff run looks to have run out of steam.

Undoubtedly weary making his franchise-record 25th consecutive start, the 41-year-old netminder allowed goals on the first three shots he faced in the second period before being pulled as the Panthers dropped a 4-2 decision to Ottawa Thursday night at the BankAtlantic Center.

The loss, only Florida’s third in regulation on home ice since Christmas, dropped the Panthers to 31-30-13 and was likely the final blow to their dwindling playoff hopes as they fell seven points behind eighth-place Carolina, a 4-3 winner over Washington.

Ottawa’s four goals against Belfour came on just nine shots.


Belfour had given up five goals in back-to-back games last week, but rebounded to stop 24-of-25 shots in Tuesday’s 4-1 win at Philadelphia.

Florida outshot Ottawa 37-19 and, by the Panther coaching staff’s count, had twice as many chances.

Craig Anderson, who stopped all 10 shots he faced in his first extended work as a Panther, said the opportunities the Senators’ sharpshooters got were just too good.

I expressed concern about Belfour last Sunday. You can only ride a 41-year-old goalie so far. The Panthers have played well for the last 2-3 months. 2006-07 won’t see them make the playoffs but next year is looking hopeful.

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