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POWER PLAYED: Panthers Score Power Play Goals and Win; Problem Is When They Don't

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Panthers power play problems are starting to get ridiculous -- and the statistics are simply glaring.

Although there are plenty of reasons why the Panthers are losing, none is more telling than this: When the Panthers score power play goals, they win. When they don't, well, the standings tell that story.

Going into Tuesday, Florida has five wins.

The Panthers have nine of their 11 power play goals in those games. In victories, Florida is 9-for-20 (45 percent success rate) with the advantage.

Good, right?

Now it gets ugly: In the Panthers' 13 losses, they have gone a staggering 2-for-48 (four percent).

Sunday, Florida went 0-for-4 against the Bruins and had one power play that lasted four minutes and another in which Jacob Markstrom came out and Florida had a 6-on-4 skating advantage. Of course, no one was in the net and Boston scored. Whatever.

"When you are out there on the power play, you're out there for one reason and that's to score goals,'' Peter Mueller said.

"We've been practicing and doing things right. We should be licking our chops every time we get out there. It's a great opportunity to put a goal in the back of the net. Power plays win games. We haven't found that success yet.''

Here's some more fun with numbers:

The Panthers have lost seven of their past eight games with one power play goal in 24 chances during that streak. That goal snapped an 0-for-15 slide and helped Florida beat Philadelphia last Thursday.

Florida is 0-17 in this current five-game home winless streak.

"Our power play sucked the life out of us,'' coach Kevin Dineen said after last week's loss to Toronto. "We need our special teams to give us a boost and no go oh-fer on one side then giving up a big goal on the other.''

Last year, the Panthers power play ranked seventh in the league (18.5 percent success rate) as Florida's top line of Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann had 19 of their 70 combined goals while with the man advantage.

This year tells a much different tale.

Part of the reason for Florida's power play decline has been the loss of three key players -- and a fourth who hasn't played much.

Defenseman Jason Garrison scored a team-high nine power play goals last season but left as a free agent as did Mikael Samuelsson (six power play goals).

Sean Bergenheim, who had five such goals last season, has missed the entire season after being hurt during the lockout.

Versteeg led Florida's top line with eight power play goals last year, but he's been hurt for much of the year and has only played in seven games. His lone goal came on a power play in the win against Winnipeg.

Weiss has one goal this season -- and it came on the power play in one of the Philadelphia wins on Feb. 7. One of Fleischmann's four goals was on the power play.

Florida's power play success rate of 16.2 percent was tied for 21st in the league coming into Monday's games.

The Panthers have scored 11 power play goals all season -- with six coming in home wins (Florida's only home wins) against Carolina and Winnipeg.

In the Panthers' other seven home games, they have scored one power play goal in 26 tries.

No coincidence that the Panthers are 0-4-3 in home games not against Carolina or Winnipeg.

"It's do or die now. In such a short season, it's time to stop messing around,'' forward Shawn Matthias said. "We have to be better in all aspects of the game. Special teams is a big part of that. We have to take advantage of teams when they are down.''

-- Alex Kovalev became just the eighth active NHL player to have blown out 40 candles as he celebrated his birthday on Sunday.

The party was tempered a bit, however, as Kovalev was Florida's healthy forward scratch for the second time in three games.

Kovalev has been scratched four times since Feb. 7.

Other 40-year-old NHLers include: former Panthers winger Ray Whitney (Dallas), Teemu Selanne (Anaheim), Jaromir Jagr (Dallas) and Martin Brodeur (New Jersey).

-- Florida's 0.78 points earned per home game is ranked just above Winnipeg (.75), Buffalo (.70) and the Islanders (.44).

Pittsburgh, Tuesday's opponent at BB&T Center, has earned 1.6 points per road game -- third-best in the league.

TUESDAY: PENGUINS AT PANTHERS
When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560
The series: Pittsburgh leads 39-31-4
The game: The Penguins have won five of the past six -- including a 3-1 win over the visiting Panthers last Friday. Pittsburgh won 5-3 in Tampa on Sunday. Pittsburgh has won at least once in Sunrise every season since 2005-06.

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