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RUN OVER IN C-BUS: Panthers 'Special' Teams Don't Do Much in 6-3 Loss to Blue Jackets

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Panthers' special teams have been problematic all year. Saturday, it was ridiculous how bad things got.

Florida surrendered three power play goals before the Blue Jackets scored a shorthanded one for good measure in a 6-3 win over the Panthers at Nationwide Arena.

The Panthers, last in the league in both power play and penalty kill percentages, have lost eight of 10 dating to Jan. 24.

Florida's penalty kill has been successful once in six tries since the Olympic break; the power play is a anemic 1-for--10. Columbus' final two goals of the day came into an empty net.

"Special teams stink,'' coach Peter Horachek said afterward. "Those guys aren't taking responsibility for the penalty killing. That was not very good. The power play, to give up a shorthanded goal in that situation .-.-. there has to be some sense of desperate play.''

The team left the Ohio capital soon after Saturday's loss and flew to Long Island. The Panthers visit the New York Islanders -- who were embarrassed 6-1 at home by the Devils on Saturday -- on Sunday afternoon before wrapping up this three-game road trip Tuesday in Boston.

"They beat us on special teams,'' said Nick Bjugstad, who tied the score at 2 in the second. "We had a good fight back and it was a close one. We had our chances but we need a better start.''

Florida fell behind 2-0 as the Jackets scored on consecutive power plays before Shawn Matthias picked off an errant pass deep in the Columbus zone and walked in on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and roofed a shot with 6:10 left in the first.

Bjugstad tied the score at 2 less than seven minutes into the second, backhanding a shot past Bobrovsky for his 14th goal of the year.

Florida's Erik Gudbranson got called for cross-checking midway through the second and that meant bad news for the Panthers. Florida, which allowed Washington to go 2-for-2 on the power play on Thursday, watched David Savard make it 3-for-3 for the Blue Jackets as he scored with a second left in Columbus' third power play attempt.

"We didn't play well,'' Brad Boyes said. "I thought we were turning the corner with the power play in the last game. But this is a broken record. It's killing us.''

The Panthers wouldn't be down long, however, as 40 seconds later, Tom Gilbert's long shot clipped Sean Bergenheim camped down low and the puck somehow found its way past Bobrovsky.

Florida tried to take its first lead of the game late in the third when Derek MacKenzie popped Dmitry Kulikov with his stick Instead, Artem Anisimov bulled Jonathan Huberdeau in the corner and took the puck away from him.

Anisimov spun and took the puck directly to the net, beating Scott Clemmensen with 10 seconds left before the second break.

"There are individuals who let everyone else down,'' Horachek said, not naming Huberdeau specifically.

-- Horachek went with Clemmensen in net with Tim Thomas expected to get the call Sunday. Clemmensen, who made 31 saves, hadn't started since Jan. 30.



When, Where: 3 p.m.; Nassau Veterans Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560

The series: Panthers lead 40-34-8

Scouting report: This is a battle of two teams going nowhere fast. The Islanders, who lost 6-1 to the Devils on Saturday, are just three points ahead of the Panthers in the standings. Florida won the first meeting 4-2 in January.