As the worst team in the league, the Florida Panthers haven't enjoyed much success this season.
A good portion of the little they've had, however, has come at the expense of the Winnipeg Jets.
Eager to erase the memory of their last game, the Panthers won't have long to wait as they host the Jets for the second time in four days on Friday night.
A surprise as Southeast Division champions last season, the Panthers (7-12-5) will have to make quite a run in the second half to repeat that feat.
They have an NHL-worst 19 points and are dealing with a lengthy injury list that includes No. 1 goaltender Jose Theodore, defensemen Dmitry Kulikov, Ed Jovanovski and Mike Weaver and forwards Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Scottie Upshall.
Florida looked very much like an undermanned team in a 7-1 loss at Washington on Thursday, facing a 4-0 deficit before the game was 8 1/2 minutes old. Jack Skille's third-period goal allowed the Panthers to avoid the shutout, but wasn't nearly enough to prevent their sixth loss in eight games.
The league's worst defense took another beating as Florida allowed seven goals for the second time this season and saw its team goals-against average jump to 3.66.
Jacob Markstrom surrendered goals on both shots he faced and was pulled after 3 minutes, 10 seconds - the fastest yanking of an NHL goalie for something other than an injury in more than a year. Scott Clemmensen didn't provide much relief, yielding two goals on his first six shots.
``I don't know what to say. I couldn't stop the puck in the first two shots or whatever, first 3 minutes," Markstrom said. "No excuse for that. It was terrible. I feel like I let the team down. I'm there to stop pucks and I didn't do that tonight.'
Coach Kevin Dineen could choose to come right back with Markstrom, who stopped 30 shots for his first win of the season in Florida's 4-1 victory over Winnipeg on Tuesday.
That gave the Panthers at least one point in 11 of their last 12 meetings (6-1-5) with the Winnipeg-Atlanta franchise, including a 2-0-1 mark this season. Tomas Fleischmann has a team-best six points in the season series, while rookie Jonathan Huberdeau has a goal in all three meetings.
This will be the third stop on a four-game road trip for the Jets (11-11-1), who got a late tiebreaking goal from Bryan Little and 28 saves from Al Montoya in a 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Thursday. Eric Tangradi also scored for Winnipeg, which has won four of six overall and six of eight on the road.
``We knew it was going to be a tough road game,' Montoya said. ``We knew we had to keep the score down, and that's what we did.'
With Montoya starting Thursday, Ondrej Pavelec figures to be back in net for the Jets. Pavelec has started all three games against the Panthers, posting a 3.58 goals-against average.
Winnipeg has scored only six goals in its last four games and hasn't been helped by a power play that is 1 for 34 in the last 14 contests. That unit didn't even have an opportunity with the man advantage in Tuesday's loss.
That lack of offense, though, has been offset some by a penalty-killing unit that is perfect in the last 17 short-handed situations despite ranking 29th (75.3 percent) in the league. Only the Panthers (73.4) are worse.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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