LBC Game Preview & Open Forum: Panthers vs. Senators

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an impressive season-opening victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Panthers face the Senators in the first game of a back-to-back Canadian roadtrip.

Florida takes to the road to open a quick two-game trip into Canada. After facing the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night, the Senators will show up in Sunrise for a rematch on Thursday. The Sens will be out of action until the rematch.

The last time these two met was March 4th last season in Florida. The Panthers put an end to an almost three season long losing streak to the Senators. Partial recap courtesy of NHL.COM:

The Florida Panthers heard some boos at the BankAtlantic Center in the final seconds of the first period. Down 2-0, the slumping Panthers appeared headed for yet another loss against the Ottawa Senators and more importantly another wasted chance to solidify their hold on first place in the Southeast Division.

The outlook all changed in 33 seconds.

Marcel Goc's goal in the first minute of the second period started a three-goal rally that lifted the Panthers to a 4-2 victory.

"Obviously we weren't happy, so we got a little bit of a kick in the butt and it got us going a little bit," said center Stephen Weiss, who assisted on the last goal of that second period by Mikael Samuelsson.

"That goal on the first shift of the second was big. It got us right into it and we were rolling from there, drew a couple of penalties and kind of got the momentum back on our side. And that was enough."

Krys Barch and Jack Skille also scored for the Panthers, who snapped a nine-game losing streak against Ottawa. Defenseman Mike Weaver tied a career high with two assists.

Full Recap - Box Score

Afterward, Panthers forward Jack Skille spoke a little about Florida's then-current circumstance regarding the playoff situation:

"You see the standings, you know there's not much room for error. We've got to know that at the end of the day if we stick with our character and play the way we're supposed to play, we'll be fine in the end. That's what we plan on doing here."

Florida opened the season at home Saturday night against the Southeast Division title favorite Carolina Hurricanes. Here's NHL.COM with the recap:

Jonathan Huberdeau had an NHL debut to remember.

The Florida Panthers' prized rookie admitted to being nervous before his first shift, but he was all smiles in a victorious locker room after flashing the skills that made him the third player chosen in the 2011 NHL Draft. Huberdeau had a goal and two assists, finished with a game-high five shots and earned First Star honors after leading the Panthers to a 5-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.

He did it all in front of his family at the BB&T Center after they drove all the way from Montreal to catch his big night.

The line of Huberdeau, veteran Alex Kovalev and free agent pickup Peter Mueller combined for two goals and five assists.

Kovalev, signed after attending Panthers camp on a tryout basis, also had a goal and two assists, while Mueller had an assist.

"You've all heard a lot about Jonathan Huberdeau and I think you got a pretty good snapshot of his high-end skill set tonight," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "A coach always picks out little things that you can work on here, but that was a fairly impressive debut, to say the least. So we're really excited. It's great chemistry by those three and it was a great start for them."

Full Recap - Box Score

After the game, new acquisition Alexei Kovalev spoke about the seemingly instant chemistry on the dynamic second line:

"As a line, we've been pretty good in practice and we were concerned how we were going to do in games and so far we had a good start as a line," Kovalev said. "I'll take this game as a starting point and we'll start making adjustments. Everybody on our line played great and we'll take it to the next game and see what happens."

Ottawa enjoyed similar results in their first on-ice action in over eight months. Partial recap courtesy of NHL.COM:

The Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets brought hockey back to downtown Winnipeg before another raucous crowd. But the Senators disappointed the sold-out house by beating the Jets 4-1 in the season opener for both teams. Milan Michalek tied the game late in the first period, Chris Neil put the Senators ahead to stay in the second, and reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, who also contributed two assists, and Kyle Turris finished off the Jets with third-period insurance goals.

Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson, who excelled against the Jets last season with a .932 save percentage, stopped 27 shots, including a huge stop during one of Winnipeg’s final few offensive pushes on Dustin Byfuglien’s point-blank chance that could have tied the game.

Full Recap - Box Score

Game Time: 7:30 P.M. EST

All time Series: The Panthers have gone 27-38-7 throughout their history against the Ottawa Senators.

Season Series: 0-0-0, first of three contests.

Standings:

Florida Panthers: 1-0-0, 1.000, 2 points, tied for first in Southeast Division, tied for second in the Eastern Conference, tied for fourth in the NHL. Last five: N/A, on pace for: 48-0-0, 96 points, Playoff chances: 60%

Ottawa Senators: 1-0-0, 1.000, 2 points, tied for first in Northeast Division, tied for second in Eastern Conference, tied for fourth in the NHL. Last five: N/A, on pace for: 48-0-0, 96 points, Playoff chances: 60%

LBC's Game Thread goes live at 7 p.m.

Milestones

If Shawn Matthias lights the lamp tonight, he will pass Mike Van Ryn into 46th all-time, with 26.

With a goal, Tomas Fleischmann will tie Bryan McCabe in 42nd all-time, with 28, and into a 48th place tie with Dave Gagner, with 62 points.

Mike Santorelli will tie Chris Gratton in 37th all-time with his next goal, number 30.

Ed Jovanovski's next goal will be his 33rd, moving him into a tie for 31st with Valeri Bure.

Brian Campbell's next assist will give him 50, tying him with Niklas Hagman in 39th all-time.

Today in Panthers History

2002: Panthers 7, Canadiens 5: The Russian Rocket Pavel Bure scored twice plus an assist, Kristian Huselius pitched in with a goal and two assists, and Sandis Ozolinsh had three helpers as 14 Florida players figured onto the scoresheet. Roberto Luongo didn't have to be good that day, stopping 34-of-39 shots in earning a victory for the 16-27-3-3 Panthers. Florida has gone 3-5-3 on all January 21st's.

Birthdays

No Panthers celebrate a birthday, but last season's NHL Stanley Cup Finals MVP Jonathan Quick (goalie) turns 27.

Lineups

Florida Panthers

FORWARDS

Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Mike Santorelli

Alexei Kovalev - Peter Mueller - Jonathan Huberdeau

Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Tomas Kopecky

Jack Skille - Jerred Smithson - George Parros

DEFENSE

Brian Campbell - Mike Weaver

Filip Kuba - Dmitry Kulikov

Keaton Ellerby - Ed Jovanovski

GOALTENDERS

Jose Theodore - Scott Clemmensen

Ottawa Senators

FORWARDS

Daniel Alfredsson - Jason Spezza - Milan Michalek

Jakob Silfverberg - Kyle Turris - Guillaume Latendresse

Chris Neal - Zach Smith -Kaspars Daugavins

Erik Condra - Jim O'Brien - Colin Greening

DEFENSEMEN

Erik Karlsson - Chris Phillips

Marc Methot - Sergei Gonchar

Mike Lundin - Mark Borowiecki

GOALTENDERS

Craig Anderson - Ben Bishop

Panthers Injury Report: (courtesy of Harvey Fialkov's Panthers Blog)

Kris Versteeg is doubtful for the trip. D Erik Gudbranson (shoulder) and C Marcel Goc (ankle) are still at least a week away. No timetable for Sean Bergenheim. Mike Weaver and Dmitry Kulikov will be in the lineup.

Team Leaders

Florida Panthers

Goals
Brian Campbell - 2, Scottie Upshall, Alexei Kovalev, Jonathan Huberdeau - 1

Assists
Jonathan Huberdeau, Alexei Kovalev - 2, Filip Kuba, Peter Mueller, Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss - 1

Points
Jonathan Huberdeau, Alexei Kovalev - 3, Brian Campbell - 2

Plus/Minus
Jonathan Huberdeau, Alexei Kovalev, Peter Mueller - plus-2

PIM
Eight players tied at two.

Ottawa Senators

Goals
Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek, Chris Neil, Kyle Turris - 1

Assists
Erik Karlsson - 2, four players tied at one

Points
Erik Karlsson - 3, seven players tied at one

Plus/Minus
Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot - plus-2, 11 players tied at plus-1

PIM
Guillaume Latendresse - 4, five players tied at two.

Around the NHL

Prior to the Cats and the Sens matching up at 7:30, 12 other teams will see action today. First, at 1PM, the Jets visit Boston and the Bolts take on the New York Islanders. At 6PM, the Blues visit Nashville. At 7PM, the Sabres pay a visit to the Maple Leafs and the Red Wings will try to score their first goal of the season in Columbus. The Flames visit Anaheim in the nightcap at 9PM.

Prognostication: I didn't do so bad my first time out - so I'll give it another go. Ex-Panther Craig Anderson (7-0-1 all time against Florida) is money all night, but allows two goals. One to Jonathan Huberdeau and a second to Mike Santorelli. Theodore is equal to the task, stopping 28-of-30 shots and sending the game to a scoreless overtime. KD sends out the second line as his three shooters, and Peter Mueller sinks the game winner. Do you wanna play? Leave your prediction below.

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