Three straight overtime losses for struggling Panthers

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The Florida Panthers built up a two-goal lead early in the third period Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but that evaporated.

The Panthers eventually lost 6-5 in overtime – thanks in large part to a brilliant Steven Stamkos pass that led to Teddy Purcell tying the game late in the third period – and have now lost three consecutive games in the extra period.

“It’s all over again,” Tomas Kopecky, who scored the fifth Panthers goal, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“We lost the last game like this. We’ve got to play a full 60 minutes. We know they’re going to come out hard the last five minutes. We tried to play too cute. You’re going to have to play defensively really good, especially toward the end when we have a lead; get the pucks out and do the simple things.”

The Panthers are coming a playoff appearance last spring – their first since 2000.

However, the Panthers, now winless in their last four games, are 12th in the Eastern Conference with a 4-6-4 record.

“Right now there’s a confidence factor that plays into it,” Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen told NHL.com.

“You get stung like this as many times as we have in a row, then there is a little bit of a confidence factor. But I believe we have the right guys that can go out there and get the job completed.”