43-year-old Jaromir Jagr's two goals powered the Florida Panthers to a colossal 4-2 road win over the Ottawa Senators in what was the club's biggest game of the year to this point. The Panthers held serve with Boston, who slipped past Carolina in overtime.The Bruins continue to hold a four-point advantage over Florida for the Eastern Conference's final wild card. Ottawa is now just one point ahead of the Cats.
The Panthers got off to fast start, peppering former Florida netminder Craig Anderson with plenty of shots, but they could not finish in the opening frame. Dan Ellis made some nice stops as Ottawa started to tilt the ice as the period progressed, sending the clubs to their respective dressing scoreless after twenty minutes with Florida leading in shots, 14-9. Ellis got some help from the cross bar on Mark Stone's bid after a turnover.
Eric Gryba went to the box for interference at 6:09 of the second period and three turned out to be the magic for the the Panthers' power play.
Jagr bagged his first of the game with a terrific wrist shot after taking a sharp entry pass from Jonathan Huberdeau. The five-time Art Ross winner went low on Anderson for his fourteenth of the campaign. Dmitry Kulikov collected the second helper on the play.
The Panthers power play struck again at the 15:49 mark. Dave Bolland fed Jussi Jokinen a short pass for a quick-timer, with Gryba the disgraced Senator in the box again. Defenseman Brian Campbell drew the second assist on Jokinen's eighth.
Ottawa finally dented Ellis with a power-play marker of their own 4:43 into the third period. Erik Karlsson beat the screened Florida goaler from the blue line, with the assists going to Stone and Kyle Turris. The goal was the slick defender's twentieth of the season.
The score remained 2-1 for the next 9:14, until Jagr turned back the clock with a great individual effort to restore the Panthers' two-goal lead.
After taking a slick backhand dish from Huberdeau at the line, Jagr broke down the wing and faked Anderson out of his jock and down to his knees. The veteran winger quickly rounded the net, eluding the veteran keeper's futile poke check attempt, and stuffed the puck home for his fifteenth goal.
The Senators would not go quietly into the night, however. Jean-Gabriel Pageau converted a sweet centering pass from Mike Hoffman a few minutes later to halve the deficit.
With Tomas Kopecky in the box for a late high-sticking call and Anderson off for an extra-attacker, the Panthers finally came up with their first shorthanded goal of the year when Bolland took a pass from Willie Mitchell and sent the puck into the empty net from his own end of the ice to close out the scoring at 19:04.
The Cats and Bruins will clash Tuesday night at TD Garden to conclude Florida's five-game road trip. The contest is the Panthers final one away from the BB&T Center this season, unless, of course, they can sneak into the playoffs. To say this is a huge game would be somewhat of an understatement. Let's go bear hunting.
Odds & Ends
- The two-goal performance gave Jaromir Jagr a tidy 720 for his NHL career.
- In addition to registering his eighth goal, Jussi Jokinen led the team with six shots on net and also had two blocks. That's the kind of veteran effort we've been looking for from someone not named Jagr.
- Dan Ellis finished with 25 stops to raise his record to 4-2-1 and lower his GAA to 2.11. Those are pretty heady numbers for your number three option in net.
- Steven Kampfer returned to the lineup and played forward in place of scratched vet Brad Boyes.
- Craig Anderson turned aside 33 of the 36 shots he faced in a pretty solid performance for Ottawa.
- Willie Mitchell's assist on Dave Bolland's clincher was his first point since Florida's 3-1 win over Vancouver on January 18th.
- The Panthers' win forged a season-series split, with each team winning twice in regulation, once at home and once away.
- Silver Seven has the other side of final 2014-15 clash between the felines and government officials.