Perry’s return vs. Panthers can’t stop Ducks’ descent


Anaheim had a tough time winning during Corey Perry’s absence due to the mumps, but he was back on Sunday and that wasn’t enough to save the Ducks in their 6-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.

Nick Bjugstad led the charge for Florida, scoring a career-high four points after recording just three in his previous 14 games. He also collected his fifth career game-winner.

Panthers forward Brad Boyes had a big night too with two goals and an assist. Former Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau doubled his 2014-15 point total with a goal and an assist.

Hampus Lindholm and Andrew Cogliano accounted for the Ducks’ two markers. Emerson Etem assisted on both of those goals.

Anaheim has won just one of its last six games to drop to 11-4-4 this season. The Ducks have collected four consolation points over that stretch and they still lead the Pacific Division as a result, but Vancouver and Calgary are just two points shy.

Patrick Roy questions how hard Avalanche compete


Seven games into the season, and the Colorado Avalanche sit second from the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

The latest loss came to the Florida Panthers, not necessarily a powerhouse team at 13th in the East so far, by a 4-3 final in overtime on Tuesday. That dropped Colorado’s record to 1-4-2. Remember, this was a team that finished second in the conference with 112 points last season.

The way the Avalanche has competed early on has now been called into question by head coach Patrick Roy, who let go a clear shot at his team following the loss.

“Right now the way I look at, is we want an easy game,” Roy told The Denver Post. “Until we’re where we want to compete at the level we were last year, we’re going to struggle. We’re not sharp mentally.”

It was 11 days ago, following a season-opening 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild, that Roy said his team was playing “too fancy.”

Against the Panthers, the Avalanche fell behind by two goals in the first period, fought back to take the lead but then surrendered it all in the second period.

That eventually led to Panthers’ veteran Brad Boyes scoring on an overtime power play, for a tripping call on Brad Stuart that Colorado was non too pleased about afterward.

“I’m not going to say much about it (because) I’ll get myself in trouble,” Stuart said, as per The Denver Post. “But I don’t agree with it, I’ll say that much — especially after I got hauled down in the third, right in front of him and he doesn’t call it.”

Video: Ovechkin’s shootout winner lifts Caps over Panthers


Alex Ovechckin picked up the shootout winner in the third round as Washington edged Florida 2-1 Saturday night.

Jason Chimera had Washington’s other goal while Brad Boyes had the lone goal for the Panthers.

Goaltender Justin Peters made 20 saves for the win.

Washington has won three of four while Florida has now lost four of five to start the season.

Panthers on brink of embarrassing record


The Florida Panthers weren’t the worst team this season, but they were certainly close. Acquiring goaltender Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks gives them more credibility, but their core of forwards remains a serious concern.

They do have some promising young talent like Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, but you need only look at the record they’re on the cusp of breaking to realize that much more work needs to be done.

With three games left in the Panthers schedule, Scottie Upshall leads the team with just 36 points. The record for the fewest points in an 82-game season by a team scoring leader is 39. To make matters worse the record-holder, Scott Pellerin, achieved that dubious distinction while playing for the 2000-01 Minnesota Wild in their expansion season.

Pellerin also spent part of the season with Carolina and consequently got those 39 points in 58 games with the Wild. By comparison, Upshall has participated in 73 contests in 2013-14.

“It’s kind of embarrassing that we don’t even have a guy with 40 points,” Upshall admitted, per the Miami Herald. “There’s no leading scorers on this team. We all have to realize we need to be better. You chip away, learn to bury your chances.”

Florida has a couple of other players that might save them from the record in 21-year-old Nick Bjugstad (35 points) and defenseman Brian Campbell (35). Brad Boyes has 34 points, but has missed the team’s last two games with a back injury.

At least they know that they can’t do much worse in this regard next season.

PHT Morning Skate: MacKinnon shifts back to center to replace Duchene

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Colorado Avalanche have shifted Nathan MacKinnon back to his natural position of center so that he can replace the injured Matt Duchene on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn. (Denver Post)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $750 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday night’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $200. Starts Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Steve Downie isn’t experiencing concussion symptoms at this point, but he won’t play on Tuesday. (CSN Philly)

Back in New Jersey, defenseman Adam Larsson thinks his time in the minors did him some good. The highly regarded 21-year-old has had some difficulty establishing himself in the NHL and was once called “his own worst enemy sometimes” by AHL Albany coach Rick Kowalsky. (The Bergen Record)

Maple Leafs forward Dave Bolland spoke about the need to stay positive despite Toronto’s collapse, but the locker room atmosphere Monday morning suggested that his teammates are having trouble doing that after they all-but completely slipped out of contention for a playoff spot. (Ottawa Citizen)

James Sheppard admitted to be worried on Saturday when his left knee/leg collided violently with the boards. His NHL career had previously been put into jeopardy over a left knee injury, but fortunately his new ailment wasn’t significant. (CSN Bay Area)

With the season almost over and the Florida Panthers chances of making the playoffs long since dead, forward Brad Boyes is nevertheless frustrated by his team’s habit of being unprepared and falling behind early. Florida has been outscored 81-42 in the first period of games in 2013-14. (Miami Herald)

Speaking of which, here are the highlights from New Jersey’s 6-3 victory over Florida: