The Panthers may be going nowhere fast, but Monday night, they showed they still had a little fight left in them.
Just not enough to beat the playoff-bound Predators.
Despite scoring twice within a three minute span in the third period, the Panthers gave up a late goal and watched Francis Bouillon score in overtime as Nashville departed South Florida with a 3-2 win at BankAtlantic Center.
The Panthers have lost three straight and six of their past eight.
The two teams participated in just a brutal first period, with neither team doing much of anything. The two had a total of four combined shots in the first 10 minutes, and ended with just 10 through the entire period.
“I saw it was 1-0 as far as chances went in 20 minutes of hockey,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “I haven't seen that in a long time. The game got better as it wore on and I think it's disappointing we didn't get two points. We did a lot of things well in the second half of that game.''
Play was ramped up in the second, with the Panthers getting a good eight scoring chances as Nashville gave the Panthers two power play chances. Florida couldn't convert, however, and the Predators went to the second break leading 1-0 after David Legwand beat Clemmensen 2:41 into the period.
Florida finally solved Dan Ellis in the third period with Keith Ballard putting Florida on the board to tie the score 3:12 in. Just a few minutes later, Stephen Weiss continued adding to his career-best totals in goals as he picked up No. 27 by deflecting a long shot from Jason Garrison.
With that, the game was back on Clemmensen. The backup goalie had seen quite a few shots from Nashville in the third, but was able to turn everything back until Patric Hornqvist beat Clemmensen five hole with 3:07 remaining.
“They found a way to tie it up there,'' said Clemmensen, who stopped 22 of 25 shots. “We were playing well. They really pushed it when they were down by a goal. There's a reason they are where they are at. They find a way to win. It's disappointing. We were right there, just a few minutes away.''
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the night came in the second period highlights when, as expected, heavyweights Steve MacIntyre and Wade Belak met up at center ice.
MacIntyre, called up from the minors just two games ago, slugged it out with the former Panthers enforcer, bringing the small crowd to its feet as the two threw one haymaker after another before MacIntyre finally chopped down Belak.
Belak, traded to the Preds from the Panthers on Thanksgiving Day in 2008, was playing in his first game since Feb. 12. Belak didn't win the fight, but he did give the crowd a laugh when he was captured puckering up to the 'kiss cam' during the second period.
General manager Randy Sexton said Monday night that he had not spoken to injured winger David Booth in a couple of days. And he's cool with that.
“His voice mail is full,'' Sexton said, “and that's great. That means he's not on the phone.”
Sexton added that there is less of a concern with Booth's long-term prognosis than there was before. Booth, who is shut down for the season and won't play in the offseason World Championships, was much more alert the day after suffering his second concussion Thursday than he was back in October. Booth's first concussion cost him 45 games.
“Having gotten the test results, I'm a lot less concerned,'' Sexton said. “His level of alertness in Montreal, his mental acuity, his sense of humor, everything was significantly better than in Philadelphia. You're always concerned to have two in a year, but a lot less concerned given the medical results.”
-- DeBoer was asked about Florida's goofy schedule and conceded that Florida's season was over. The Panthers played three games in Canada last week only to fly home to play Nashville on Monday. The team flies back to Buffalo on Tuesday for a game against the Sabres on Wednesday.
“I’d probably be more upset if we were actually battling for a playoff spot,'' he said. “Where we’re sitting right now, it doesn’t matter where we play.''
-- DeBoer went with Clemmensen over Tomas Vokoun on Monday, saying that “something had to change” as Vokoun has one win in his past seven starts. “I’m not saying he played poorly during that stretch,'' DeBoer said, “but we’ve got to win games.''
Since Vokoun was traded from Nashville to the Panthers in 2007, the two teams have played five times – four with DeBoer as the coach. Under DeBoer, Vokoun has been benched for three of those four games.
-- DeBoer says something has to change next season as the team's effort is way too inconsistent.
“It’s obviously maddening,'' he said. “We have some guys that give it to you on a nightly basis, Bryan McCabe, Bryan Allen, some of those guys. And we’ve got a group of guys that need to constantly be pushed.''
-- Byron Bitz injured an elbow Saturday in Ottawa and is day-to-day. Victor Oreskovich was recalled from Florida's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., and was in the lineup Monday.