Panthers kick off season-ending homestand vs. Flames

By The Sports NetworkApril 4, 2014 at 11:05 AM
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( - The Florida Panthers will begin the process of wrapping up another disappointing campaign when the sliding club starts a five-game season-ending homestand with Friday's clash against the Calgary Flames.

The Panthers have been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention, meaning the franchise will miss the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons. The club is not exactly going down swinging, having lost four straight and seven of its past eight.

Had Florida still be in contention, the upcoming five-game stay at BB&T Center could have been helpful to the team's playoff cause. Instead, the Panthers can concern themselves with finishing the season strong and improving upon a 14-17-5 record on home ice.

The Panthers are coming off an 0-2 road trip, losing regulation decisions against the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders. After losing 6-3 to the Devils on Monday, Florida was handed a 4-2 setback the following night at Nassau Coliseum.

Florida briefly held a 1-0 lead over the Islanders on Tuesday after Quinton Howden scored shorthanded just 1:50 into the game. However, New York scored four unanswered goals to take control of the contest. The Isles' surge began with a power-play goal from Travis Hamonic, who lit the lamp just 45 seconds after Howden.

Brandon Pirri also scored for Florida, while Scott Clemmensen allowed all four goals on 40 shots.

Roberto Luongo expects to start Friday's game. The veteran goaltender is 4-5-1 with a 2.54 goals against average in 10 games with the Panthers since coming over from Vancouver at the trade deadline.

The Flames also have been eliminated from playoff contention, but the club was able to halt a two-game slide with Thursday's road win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Karri Ramo stopped 31 shots to help Calgary beat the Lightning, 4-1.

Mike Cammalleri and Kevin Westgarth scored 15 seconds apart in the first period for the Flames, who also had lost three of four entering Thursday's tile. Curtis Glencross scored twice late in the game.

"We all had a good game out there tonight," said Ramo. "There's not much left in this season and we all want to do our best before it ends."

The Flames, who haven't made the playoff since 2009, will cap a four-game road trip Monday in New Jersey. They are 14-20-4 as the guest this season.

Calgary recorded a 4-3 shootout win when it hosted the Panthers on Nov. 22. It was the second win for the Flames in the last five meetings of this series. The clubs have split the four meetings in South Florida.


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