The free-falling Florida Panthers will try to snap a five- game losing streak when they welcome the Winnipeg Jets for a Southeast Division battle at the BB&T Center.
Florida opened the season with a win but hasn't managed to earn a point since then, losing five straight in regulation. It marks the first time the Panthers have gone five consecutive games without a point since an 0-5-0 stretch from Feb. 1-11, 2010.
Making matters worse, the Panthers haven't been close to getting a point since defeating Carolina 5-1 on Jan. 19. The club has been outscored by a 23-5 margin in this skid and the closest game during the slide was a 3-1 loss to Ottawa last week.
After losing a 7-1 game to visiting Philadelphia on Saturday, the Panthers were handed a 5-2 setback Tuesday evening in Tampa. Vincent Lecavalier was one of four Lightning players with a goal and an assist in the rout.
Peter Mueller and Tomas Fleischmann scored for the Panthers, who lost despite having forward Kris Versteeg in the lineup for the first time this season. Versteeg, who was third on the team with 54 points in 2011-12, had missed the first five games with a groin injury.
"There's some individual efforts that encourage you, but our team play is out of sync right now," said Florida head coach Kevin Dineen.
Jose Theodore allowed all five goals on 33 shots in defeat.
"It gets back to our team play. It's out of sync right now and it's fallen obviously the wrong way in the last 10 days here," Dineen added. "That's the problem. We have to get this thing together and start pulling as a group. We have flashes here and there. It's just not a concerted effort by everybody."
Dineen is not using injuries an excuse but Florida is still without forwards Sean Bergenheim, Marcel Goc and Stephen Weiss and defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Michael Caruso. Of that group, only Weiss and Caruso have played in games for Florida this season.
The Panthers and Jets split six meetings in 2011-12 and Winnipeg claimed two of three at the BB&T Center. Florida is 1-2-0 on home ice so far this season.
The Jets will try to get back on track in this game after having a three-game win streak halted Tuesday in Montreal. Tomas Plekanec scored the winning goal in the third period as the Canadiens edged Winnipeg, 4-3, at Bell Centre.
Olli Jokinen had a goal and an assist in the loss while Blake Wheeler and Nik Antropov also lit the lamp for the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec gave up all four goals on 26 shots for Winnipeg, which went 1-for-6 on the power play.
"We made too many mistakes tonight," said Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel. "Our power play should have been better than it was tonight. Our penalty kill didn't help us either. Tough game we had here tonight."
Tuesday's contest marked the start of a three-game road trip for the Jets. Winnipeg is 1-1-1 on the road this season after posting a dismal 14-22-5 away record in 2011-12.