At 6:00, Florida took to the ice in their Sunday Powder Blue Happy Cat alternate third uniform. They greeted the Ottawa Senators, they of four All-Star game starters. Erik Gudbranson was a healthy scratch after a few substandard performances. The Senators had beaten the Panthers nine times in a row, a streak that went back to January 9th of 2010, when the Cats won, 3-0.
Ottawa earned the first power play of the night when Sean Bergenheim was called for tripping Rob Klinkhammer halfway through the first period. At this time, the officials halted play long enough to smooth out a gauge in the ice near Jose Theodore’s goal. The Panthers did not allow a shot during the penalty kill, clearing the puck out three times.
Ottawa would get on the board first at the 13 minute mark when Jared Cowen laced one through traffic to beat Theodore low. The goal was Cowen’s fifth of the season and of his career. Kyle Turris assisted on the play.
With one and a half minutes to play in the period Chris Neil potted his 11th of the season.
Marcel Goc popped a Mike Weaver shot over rookie goaltender Robin Lehner for his seventh goal of the season less than a minute into the second, breathing new life into the Panthers. It was Weaver’s 15th assist, his career high. Tomas Kopecky also earned an assist on the play.
At the three minute mark, Krys Barch found himself all alone on a breakaway chance in front of Lehner. He skated in, waited for the goalie to commit, then flipped it over the prone rookie to get the Cats even. It was Barch’s second of the season and only the 12th of his six season career. Jack Skille assisted, as did Mike Weaver with his second in two minutes.
Ed Jovanovski was slapped in the face by by Chris Neil’s stick as he was trying to swat the puck away from the net. It looked like he dinked his head on the crossbar, and didn’t look so good afterward. Neil was given a four minute double minor for high-sticking.
It took the Panthers one minute to score with the man advantage, as Mikael Samuelsson scored his ninth goal of the season on a Brian Campbell cross-ice special. Stephen Weiss picked up an assist as well. It was Campbell’s 40th assist of the season, a mark Campbell has only reached on three prior occasions, the latest when he picked up 45 with the Chicago Black Hawks in 2008-09.
The goal was scored early enough in the power play that the Senators were forced to stay on the penalty kill for a full two minutes afterward, but the Panthers did not threaten to score again.
Jason Spezza was called for cross checking Mike Weaver with less than 20 seconds remaining in a little extra activity more than 100-feet from the puck.
The last frame started out with the Panthers on a continuation of the previous power play, but nothing would come of it.
The teams combined for five shots through the first 11 minutes of the period. The Panthers went on their third power play of the night when Erik Karlsson tried to trip Stephen Weiss with nine minutes remaining. Play was halted when Milan Michalek lost one blade. The Panthers only managed one shot on goal for the two minute duration.
Erik Karlsson drew another penalty on a dirty hit on Sean Bergenheim with six mintues left. They called it slashing, but it looked like he was trying to break Bergenheim’s leg.
Jason Garrison was called for interference on Jim O’Brien 37 seconds into the power play, making the action four on four, ending with a short power play for the Senators.
Jack Skille provided a little insurance, doubling the Florida lead by scoring his fourth goal of the season. Skille flipped it past Robin Lehner as he skated across the goalmouth with under two minutes remaining in the game.
Hits: Panthers 41-32 (Sean Bergenheim led Florida with five, Rob Klinkhammer had seven for the Senators)
Blocked Shots: Panthers 23-7 (Tyson Strachan has four for Florida, Erik Karlsson led Ottawa with two)
Faceoffs: Panthers 26-23 (Zenon Konopka has won eight-of-12 for the Sens, Marcel Goc was nine-for-14 for the Cats)
Shots on Goal: Panthers 28-25 (Chris Neil and Kyle Turris led the Senators with four, Marcel Goc led the Panthers with five)
Score: Florida 4, Ottawa 2