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Florida Panthers Offensive Numbers Continue to Sink ... David Booth, Tomas Vokoun IN vs. Penguins

Moller PITTSBURGH -- Everyone keeps asking me why Randy Moller doesn't do as many funny movie lines or song lyrics after Panthers goals this season.

Oh, Molls still does them. The Panthers just don't score 'em.

The Panthers are averaging 2.4 goals per game, but they have scored two or less in 12 of the past 17 games. Florida has won just one of those 12 games.

Even more shocking: The Panthers have scored two or less in 41 games this season. They have won just FOUR of those games.

Oy.

Here's my latest notebook on the power outage. It's nothing really new, but bears a look at.

PANTHERS NOTEBOOK

PITTSBURGH – Scoring has been a big concern for the Panthers this season. And it has only been getting worse.

The Panthers have scored 180 goals this season (ranked 27th in the 30 team league) and are averaging  just over two goals per night.

Through their first 75 games, the Panthers have been held to two goals or fewer in 41 (55 percent).      As one may imagine, Florida hasn't had too much success in those low-scoring affairs, winning just four.

After losing in Buffalo, the Panthers have now scored two goals or fewer in 12 of their past 17 (71 percent) with just one win – a 2-1 shootout win against Atlanta – in those games. In three losses this week, the Panthers scored a total of two goals, with Evgeny Dadonov's marker coming with just 2.5 seconds remaining in a 4-2 loss at Buffalo.

On Sunday, the Panthers play the Penguins for the third time this season. Pittsburgh has held the Panthers to two goals or less in both of its wins against Florida so far.

“Our chances have really dried up over the past month. We've had some spurts, but we're not getting a lot done,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “The league is tightening up and we're offensively challenged to begin with.''

Scoring has been a worry for the Panthers since DeBoer took over the team in the summer of 2008. Not long after taking the job, general manager Jacques Martin traded leading scorer Olli Jokinen to Phoenix. The following offseason saw the departure of defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (who recorded 203 points in 471 games with Florida) and then Nathan Horton (295 points in 422 games) this past summer.

The Panthers, with limited scoring talent up front, relied on defensemen to chip in. At the time he was traded in February, Dennis Wideman was second on the team in scoring and was one power play goal away from tying the franchise record for such goals in a season. Bryan McCabe, Chris Higgins and Michael Frolik were also traded away, their scoring not being replaced.

“Even early in the year when we were scoring, it was 5-on-5 and it was by committee,'' DeBoer said. “A lot of it was from defensemen. Obviously some of the guys taken out of the lineup drove that; Wideman, McCabe, Higgins, [Radek] Dvorak, those kind of guys. You have young guys that have to take advantage of the playing time they're getting.''

The Panthers have tinkered with the lineup and have added players like Jack Skille, Sergei Samsonov, Ryan Carter and Niclas Bergfors. Since joining the Panthers, that quartet has combined for five goals (Samsonov has three of them) with 15 assists.

“The past few games have been tough, and for me, you kind of lose confidence. You just don't feel as comfortable out there when you're struggling,'' Bergfors said. “Mistakes have cost us goals, so you may be thinking too much about it. We're working hard, but in tight games, sometimes you grip the stick too tight. We're all going through it. Losing streaks are tough.''

NEWS, NOTES

The Panthers will have the services of winger David Booth on Sunday against the Penguins after Booth was hit in the throat by a puck Friday night in Buffalo.

Booth, who was forced to leave the game, was taken to Buffalo General Hospital for precautionary reasons but was released and met the team at the airport. The worry with Booth was that he could have complications because of the air pressure of flying. He was on Florida's short charter flight to Pittsburgh.

DeBoer said through a spokesman on Saturday that the Panthers would have the same lineup on Sunday that they had on Friday, meaning forwards Jack Skille (ankle) and Shawn Matthias (ankle) would miss their second straight game and Tomas Vokoun would be in net.

-- Weiss did not face any disciplinary sanctions from the league for his hit to the head of Buffalo's Paul Gaustad during Friday's game. Weiss took a two-minute penalty for elbowing, but was not fined nor suspended. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said the league needed to look at the hit, adding that Weiss has never been known for dirty play.

Gaustad had to leave the game to be evaluated under the league's new concussion guidelines. Gaustad, who glared and shouted at Weiss as he left the ice, did return to the game after passing all the tests.

"It's definitely a play you have to look at now,'' Ruff told reporters after Buffalo's 4-2 win. "It was a blow to the head. Whether Weiss did it accidentally or on purpose, it was still an elbow to the head. He's not that type of player. But at the same time, those types of plays have to be dealt with.''

SUNDAY: PANTHERS AT PENGUINS
When, Where: 1 p.m.; Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh
TV/Radio: FSN; WQAM 560
The series: Penguins lead 33-30-4
The game: The Penguins have won three straight and seven of their past nine dating to March 5 – and that's been without stalwarts Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeny Malkin (knee) among others. The Pens did get center Mike Comrie back Friday against the Devils after he had hip surgery in December. Pittsburgh went into Saturday just two points back of Atlantic Division leading Philadelphia (who played the Islanders on Saturday) and the two meet in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.


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