The ushering in of the New Year and the Panthers' halfway point to the season collided in the BB&T Center Tuesday night, and if the players had one collective resolution for 2014 it would be to continue their recent trend upward.

At 15-20-6, the Panthers find themselves in seventh place of their eight-team Atlantic Division, and 14th of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference.

Although they dug themselves a hole with their 3-9-4 start that got coach Kevin Dineen fired and Kris Versteeg traded, the Panthers are within 10 points of a wild-card playoff berth with a game in hand on the Red Wings.

"It looked bleak,'' Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon said between periods of Tuesday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Rangers, their first blown lead in the third period this season.

"Guys are starting to believe in each other, believe in the system and starting to trust each other. It takes time, a new coach, new system. If we could get healthy, get guys back … It's going to take an army, but we're not out of it.''