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GETTING UGLY: Weiss Benched in Third Period of 4-1 Loss to Bruins ... Panthers Haven't Won at Home Since Jan. 31

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

If the Panthers want to salvage what's left of this season and make a return appearance in the postseason, they had better start winning at home.

That, and get a lot more production out of their top players.

The Panthers lost for the fifth straight time at BB&T Center on Sunday as the tan and rested Bruins finally left town after picking up a 4-1 victory in which Florida coach Kevin Dineen benched Stephen Weiss for much of the third period.

"This will turnaround somewhere along the line,'' said Dineen, whose team hasn't won at home since beating Winnipeg on Jan. 31.

"I think there's a clear understanding on how we have to play. We can preach it and ask it, but we've done a lot of talking. Now it's time for more direct action.''

Weiss' struggles this season have been well documented although Dineen had kept him on Florida's top line. Sunday, Dineen put Weiss with productive wingers Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller to start. It didn't last.

By the end of the game, Weiss -- Florida's all-time leader in games played with the franchise -- was on the bench. Weiss had been on Florida's fourth line for a time, but when the Panthers had a 6-on-4 chance, he wasn't around to help out.

Weiss played just two shifts in the third period. When he returned to the bench with 6:01 left, he never went back out. In 14 games, Weiss -- who is a free agent after this season and has a no-trade clause in his contract -- has just one goal and three assists. He is also a minus-11.

Afterward, Dineen said knowing he has used Weiss in every situation imaginable previously made it a little easier in putting him on the shelf.

"For the last year-and-a-half I've looked down -- if we are a man short or on the power play -- for that number,'' Dineen said. "That made it much easier to have him sitting there not part of the equation with the quality of hockey he's playing right now.''

Sunday's loss was just another one in a long line at home.

The Panthers have won just two of nine home games and their seven home points (2-4-3) are better than just three teams -- and two of those (Carolina and Winnipeg) are the only ones Florida has beaten at home.

Florida has 15 home games remaining with the three-game homestand continuing Tuesday against the Penguins -- who happen to have the second-best road record in the league behind only the uber-hot Blackhawks.

Aside from losing five straight at home, the Panthers have lost seven of eight.

"You want to be a good road team because you have to be a great home team,'' Shawn Matthias said.

The Bruins, who had enjoyed Fort Lauderdale beach since arriving here Thursday night, built two two-goal leads on the Panthers before getting a short-handed empty net goal with 1:37 left. Goalie Tuukka Rask made 34 saves.

Boston took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period with Florida's Tomas Kopecky cutting the deficit in half by jumping on a loose puck and poking it through.

Chris Kelly then scored on a power play early in the second and that was just about that.

Rookie Jacob Markstrom made his second consecutive start in goal and played well in a losing effort.

Boston, up 3-1 in the second, watched the 6-foot-6 rookie make a handful of big saves -- including a point blank shot from former Florida winger Nathan Horton as well as a breakaway from Rich Peverley.

"I really believe in our team but they got up 2-0 and we were working uphill from there,'' said Markstrom, who made 28 saves after making 37 in Friday's 3-1 loss in Pittsburgh.

Things got chippy in the second when Mike Weaver checked Lucic -- who scored Boston's first goal -- into the side boards. Lucic took offense and went after Weaver, first cross-checking him in the back before tackling him to the ice. Lucic was slapped with two minor penalties and a 10-minute misconduct.

Boston, actually, did more offensively on Florida's four-minute power play as Peverley broke through and took on Markstrom 1-on-1.The Panthers were outshot 3-0 on their own four-minute advantage.

"Those are momentum changers in the game,'' Dineen said.

-- To make room for defenseman Colby Robak on the roster, Florida put Kris Versteeg (upper body) on the injured reserve list retroactive to Feb. 12 when he was hurt against the Capitals.

Versteeg and Scottie Upshall -- out since the Winnipeg game with a sprained ankle -- are close to returning.


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Bill Lindsey says the Panthers top players have to play their best. I have news for Mr Lindsey, the Panthers have no top players.

Yeah hub is not a top player with the 9 goals he has (leads all rookies)no one wants that guy.

agree no top players

Tallon is making a mistake putting these kids in a losing environment. It's Parrish and Huselius all over again, no no, it's Horton, Bouwmeester Olesz and Weiss all over again lol.

Tallon gets too much credit and for what?? There's still no true 1st line on this team, there's still no true top line Center, the D sucks and everything else is shotty. I feel bad for Huby and Shore, those two are the hardest working players on the team along with Mueller. Everyone else is overpaid or hurt. How bad is Versteeg's injury? Bad enough to miss almost two weeks? Unreal. Softest team in the NHL. Can't win at home, can't score and give up a million goals. 1ST OVERALL PICK HERE WE COME!!!

While I like Weiss, I am not opposed to trading him. I always thought the top line (Versteeg, Weiss, and Flash) were too small. Yes, I realize that Versteeg hasn't played in a while, but my point is, Weiss is a good player but not if we have too many smallish high-priced offensive players.

I'm not opposed to trading Theo or any other RFA or UFA (excluding Mueller). To me, the only bright spots on this team have been Mueller, Huby, Guds, Markstrom, Weaver, Shore, and Kopecky. If we were to get rid of Kuba and Jovo, would could use that $$$ to sign Iginla in the offseason. However, that is very very unlikely...only a pipedream

EJ stop dreaming, nobody wants those players

I can't wait til MacKinnon and Bjugstad are lighting it up next year. On a more serious note: This team will look different than when it started the year, or I'll host a tailgate pre-game for the last game of the year, beers are on me.

Tallon isn't stupid. Ask the Blackhawks how that Cup is doing in their trophy case.

Fans just don't want to face the facts, there is very little EXPERIENCED talent on this team.

Huberdeau looks great, Shore looks solid. I *hope* we can convince Mueller to stay here, he is showing reasons why he was a top 8 pick. I love the grit Mathias plays with. Robak looked good yesterday. Markstrom looks a little rough, but that comes with playing up with the big boys. He's got the tools to work it out. Smithson (a few dumb penalties aside) looks good. The future is bright, our veterans however, have looked atrocious. Whether that's Dineen tinkering too much or them just being out of shape for the season, who knows.

Campbell has looked lost lately (after his hot start). Weiss, has checked out of this season and is worrying about where he's going to play next year. Gudbranson looks lost, Kulikov is a joke. Weaver has been playing good as of late, but started off terrible. Versteeg just got bit by the injury bug.

I'm excited for the future, but if anyone looked at this team yesterday and thinks we could even come CLOSE to sniffing the playoffs this year, they're seriously dillusional.

Panthers, #1 seed in 2016.

MacKinnon won't play next year in Florida, panthers will be bad but obviously they will win their last 5 games to blow a top 5 pick. Come on ppl, you already know this!!

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