Brian Campbell sat in his locker stall for more than 10 minutes following Sunday's game in full uniform alternately staring into space and muttering under his breath while shaking his head.
Campbell sure didn't look like a player on a team that remains in first place in its division, one that holds the third overall seeding in its conference.
It can be said the Panthers don't much look like a first place, playoff-bound team either.
For the first time this season, Florida has lost three straight games in regulation after Anaheim got a first period Teemu Selanne goal and held on for a 2-0 win at BankAtlantic Center.
The Panthers, which won back-to-back games in the New York area last weekend, are 0-3 in their four-game homestand and have scored a grand total of three goals in those losses.
Florida, which still remain atop a toothless Southeast Division, have been outscored 10-3 in those losses.
“It's disappointing,'' said Campbell, whose team was shutout for the fifth time this season and second in the past three weeks. “It's really frustrating and it's really disappointing. The last two games were tight. We need to find a way to get things done.''
Florida appeared to sit back once again and let its opponent dictate the pace of the game. Anaheim, which has gone 15-3-4 since Jan. 1, controlled play for the first 30 minutes as the Panthers rarely made goalie Jonas Hiller do much. Florida was already down 1-0 when Lubomir Visnovsky's high stick caught Mikael Samuelsson and sliced his right eyelid.
The Panthers did nothing with the four minute power play, however, registering no shots while watching the Ducks play keep-away with the puck in the Florida zone. The Panthers went 0-for-4 with the advantage.
“We need to find ways to score. We're not creating enough on offense to get us two points at the end of the night,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. “We got off to a slow start and that has been an issue lately and is something we need to correct.''
Florida definitely picked up the pace in the second half of the second and created a bunch of chances in the third. Hiller, who has played in 53 of Anaheim's 60 games, was stellar and kept the Panthers off the board. Sean Bergenheim had a great chance to tie the game with 1:25 left but was rebuffed by Hiller as he earned his 22nd win and 14th shutout of his career.
“We played well in the third period,'' said goalie Jose Theodore, who gave up one goal (the second was into an empty net) on 26 shots. “Maybe we're holding the sticks a little too tight around the net. We're working hard, have had some good practices. We have to build on the third. Things just aren't going our way.''
With the trade deadline now a week away, it's apparent the Panthers need more offensive help if they want to stop their 11-year postseason drought – longest in NHL history.
“We're really struggling. Three goals in three games obviously isn't enough,'' Samuelsson said. “We have to play with desperation. I think we did that in the third but we can be better early. It doesn't matter that we got points in New York after this three in a row. It's very disappointing and it's never good. We just have to keep our head high, keep working and stay in this.''
The Panthers lost winger Matt Bradley to an undisclosed injury after he slammed into a stanchion near the Florida bench while trying to check George Parros into the glass. Parros saw the hit coming and stopped, with Bradley going crashing into the post. Play had to be stopped while the subsequent broken glass was replaced.
Bradley left the locker room without commenting to the media. The Panthers are calling it a 'upper body' injury although Bradley looked like he hit his head on the collision. Dineen said the Panthers will call up a forward from their AHL club in San Antonio and Michal Repik – who was sent down a month ago – is considered the frontrunner to return.
() Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau says he thought Bergenheim blindsided Niklas Hagman when Bergenheim threw a shoulder on a big hit at the end of the first period.
“Maybe the total contact on one angle wasn’t to the head, but it grazed the shoulder and then hit the head full on,'' said the former Capitals coach. “But it was totally blind side. He didn’t see it coming.''
Said Hagman, who spent parts of four seasons with the Panthers: I didn’t expect that whoever was going to be there had that much speed. I didn’t see the hit. He got me pretty good. I don’t know what to say. For sure, I didn’t see him.''
() Center Stephen Weiss played in his 613th game with the Panthers, tying him with Radek Dvorak for the franchise lead. Weiss will become the team's all-time leader in games Thursday against Minnesota.