The Panthers host the Ottawa Senators tonight at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, trying to salvage the second game of a back-to-back. This is the final game of the season series between the Cats and the Senators. Ottawa has won the other three games in the series, as the Panthers sit at 0-2-1 this season. Florida has lost nine straight overall to the Senators.
Florida is 15-9-8 at home, the Senators have a 17-11-5 road record. For the Panthers, this is the second game of a home back-to-back series. They dropped a 3-1 decision to the visiting Nashville Predators last night. They don't play again until Thursday, when they hit the road to face the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, also on a back-to-back.
Ottawa is opening up a two game Florida road trip, and face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. They will return home afterward to host the New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres.
The two last squared off on February 15th, with the Senators easily dispatching the Panthers, 6-2. Jim O'Brien (1), Kaspars Daugavins (4), Bobby Butler (6), Daniel Alfredsson (20), Milan Michalek (25) and Filip Kuba (5) all scored for the Senators. Florida could only manage markers from Shawn Matthias (10) and Sean Bergenheim (12). Craig Anderson, a former Panther, shut down the Cats by stopping 42 of 44 shots. Scott Clemmensen took the loss, allowing four goals on 16 shots before being pulled in favor of Jose Theodore, who allowed two more goals on 15 shots. Alfredsson talked about the Florida mindset afterwards:
"I don't know if they feel that we have an advantage on them or not," Alfredsson said. "In today's NHL, we've just got to go out there and work hard for 60 minutes no matter who you play. You can't think, 'This is going to go our way.' "You're going to have to work for it."
Senators @ Panthers 02/15/12 (via NHLVideo)
Florida lost 3-1 to the visiting Nashville Predators last night. Andrei Kostitsyn opened the scoring midway through the first with his 13th of the season. Mike Fisher doubled the lead just 28 seconds into the middle frame for his 19th of the season. Wojtek Wolski got Florida on the board with his second goal for Florida since arriving from the New York Rangers via trade. David Legwand put the kibosh on any Florida comeback dreams with the insurance marker, his 15th of the season in the third period. Panthers Coach Kevin Dineen spoke about Pekka Rinne, the Predators goaltender who stopped 39-of-40 shots for the victory,
"I don't say this in a sarcastic or negative way at all, but goaltending was the difference tonight," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. "And it had nothing to do with what went on at our end. Pekka Rinne earns his keep every time he goes out. He had a heck of a game. You get a quick look at some of the chances that we had and he had to come up extremely big for them, which he seems to do every single game. We put a lot of pressure on him and unfortunately we weren't able to get any by him."
Scott Clemmensen took the loss for Florida, allowing all three goals on 23 shots. The setback dropped him to 11-6-5 on the season.
The Senators lost to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night, 2-1. Milan Michalek opened the scoring, getting Ottawa on top in the first period with his 29th goal of the season. Chicago answered with two markers in the second, first on Bryan Bickell's seventh of the year, then Marian Hossa with a wrap-around on the power play for his 27th of the campaign. Ray Emery won for Chicago by stopping 25 of 26 Senator's shots. Rookie Robin Lehner took the loss for Ottawa, allowing two goals on 39 shots. Lehner stopped a Patrick Sharp penalty shot in the second,
"It's hard for me to say what he did, because I was so focused on the puck," Lehner said. "He got a good piece of the puck. (On the penalty shot) I saw what he was going to do there, and he hit my glove."
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Ottawa Senators Mar. 2 2012 (via TheNHLVideoCenter)
Florida Panthers: 30-22-12, 72 points, first Southeast Division, third Eastern Conference, 15th NHL, on pace for 92 points. Last five: W-W-W-L-L. Playoff odds: 71.7%
Ottawa Senators: 34-24-8, second Northeast Division, seventh Eastern Conference, 11th NHL, on pace for 94 points. Last five: W-L-W-W-L. Playoff odds: 92.5%