Sports Outside the Beltway

Banging my head against the wall- Florida blows 3-1 lead and loses to Edmonton

Another late game loss by the Panthers.

SUNRISE, Fla. – Jarret Stoll scored twice in the final 1:23 of regulation to force overtime and help the Edmonton Oilers beat Florida 4-3 in a shootout Thursday.

Shawn Horcoff scored the only goal in the shootout, and Oilers goalie Mathieu Baron stopped Nathan Horton, Kamil Kreps and Olli Jokinen.

Ethan Moreau also scored in regulation for Edmonton, which won for only the second time in its last six games.

Jokinen, Brett McLean, and Gregory Campbell scored for Florida, which snapped a six-game home losing streak with a 5-3 victory over Ottawa in its previous game.

Florida All-Star Tomas Vokoun made 37 saves and Garon stopped 32 shots in regulation and overtime in Edmonton’s first visit to the Panthers since Dec. 7, 2002.

Stoll beat Vokoun with a slap shot from the point to make it 3-2 at 18:37 on a power play after the Oilers had pulled Garon.

A miscue by Vokoun led to Stoll’s second goal at 19:08. Vokoun went behind the net to play the puck but let it get past him. Stoll raced to the puck and fired a pass to the front of the net that bounced in off the inside of Vokoun’s leg.

This is at least the fourth game Florida has blown in the last minute of play this year. There were losses to Nashville and Toronto where Florida’s opponent scored in the last half minute of play to win. There was another game against Tampa Bay I think where a team scored in the last minute to tie and then won in OT. I think there is even a fifth example of Florida failing to close out a game, but I forgot the specifics.

Florida is playing at best mediocre hockey and the team has better talent than that. I don’t know if its the coaching or lackadaisical play. Even so Florida remains less than five points out of the lead in the Southeast Division. That with one less game played also compared to Carolina. If the Panthers could get their act together, they can win the division. Florida should win the Southeast, but after hearing enough of that broken record of mine, I’m losing faith in this team. If you can’t beat one of the worst teams in the NHL with a 2-goal lead and less than two minutes to go, how are you supposed to make the playoffs?

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