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Welcome to Arizona: Changes in Altitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Arizona GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In less than 24 hours, the mood of the Panthers had definitely changed.

A visiting locker room that was deadly silent in Los Angeles on Thursday night morphed into a more relaxed scene in Arizona.

Instead of throwing his equipment and muttering under his breath, goalie Tomas Vokoun looked relaxed and greeted teammates with a smile. Music from an iPod blared through the sound system.

That's not to say Thursday's 3-2 loss to the host Kings at Staples Center had been forgotten. No, it's too soon for that.

“We have to get over this mentality, get over this hump of letting games slide by,'' said David Booth, who snapped a 12-game drought without a goal in the second period on Thursday to give Florida a lead it would hold until early in the third.

“We're in every game, but we have to start finding ways to win them. Winning has to be the mentality around here. We have to get confidence that we can win a game in the third. Whether we're down one or up one, we have to know we can win it. We have to make a push and have to start doing that now.''

The team didn't do much on Friday afternoon, most of the players traveling off site to do workouts while some injured players – like Bryan Allen – took use of the ice at Jobing.com Arena. A few players and staff planned to go hiking in the nearby mountains later on.

It seems the Panthers will do anything to try and rid themselves of their past two games.

On Wednesday, the host Ducks jumped on the Panthers and never trailed in a 5-3 win. Thursday, the Panthers led 2-1 going into the third but goals from Peter Harrold and Anze Kopitar did Florida in. Kopitar's shot to beat Vokoun came with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

“After Thursday against Anaheim, we needed to bounce back and play solid hockey for 60 minutes,'' said Radek Dvorak. “We have to learn how to win close games. We played well, but at the end, it's 3-2 for them. It's a tough loss. We did a lot of good things like we have for a lot of the season. But we haven't won. It's real tough but we have to bounce back. Take the positive play from tonight and look forward to the next game. It has to start in Phoenix and that's the bottom line.''

Instead of at least picking up a point on the road, the Panthers were left with nothing. Again. Florida has been in just one overtime game this season, beating Tampa Bay in a shootout last Saturday night. The Panthers head into Saturday's game against the Coyotes with losses in five of six.

“There have been five or six times this season we were in a position to pick up some points,'' coach Pete DeBoer said Friday. “We win a couple of those games, we're at .500 and feeling pretty good about ourselves. .-.-. We're going down to their end and missing two chances and they come down and their chances find the back of the net. I think you have to look at how we're handling the situation and not the result. Obviously the results aren't going our way right now.''

Said Stephen Weiss about Thursday's game: “We played a good game but have said that before. Playing good games doesn't mean crap in this league. Certainly everyone played their hearts out and left it out there. It wasn't good enough. That was one of our better games as far as that was.''

-- Michal Repik scored Florida's first goal on Thursday after tapping in a loose puck, but he didn't get a longer stay with the Panthers out of it. Repik was sent back to the Panthers AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., on Friday. Kenndal McArdle will replace him in the lineup on Saturday.

-- The Panthers will likely be without winger Chris Higgins for a second straight game because of a nasty infection on the top of his right foot. Higgins said he felt some pain in the foot during Monday's practice in Anaheim but played through it.

The top of his foot is completely red and swollen and he has trouble walking. Higgins said he went to a local hospital “but still haven't gotten a straight answer out of anyone on what this is.'' The Panthers say they have ruled out Staph.

-- Allen, out for the past few weeks with a broken bone in his foot, skated again on Friday and says the pain is diminishing each day.

SATURDAY: PANTHERS AT COYOTES
When, Where: 8 p.m.; Jobing.com Arena, Glendale, Ariz.
TV/Radio: FSNF; 560-WQAM
The series: Coyotes lead 11-8-3
The game: Before losing two straight to close out November, the Coyotes were one of the hottest teams in the league, winning seven straight from Nov. 10-23. Phoenix also picked up two points in the standings by losing in overtime in the games preceeding the winning streak. .-.-. The Panthers have lost two straight to the Coyotes and haven't won here since 2004. .-.-. Florida was 3-2-0 against the Winnipeg Jets before they moved to the desert in time for the 1996-97 season.

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The Panthers "super-sieve" future goalie, Markstrom, gave up another 5 spot last night. Only reason we won is because the opposing two goalies played WORSE. He's now ranked 45th out of 46 goalies in the AHL.

You'd better hold onto Vokoun as long as you can.

Thrilled to see Kenndal McArdle back up. Give him some ice time, sit back and enjoy his energy and talent!

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