Three different Florida Panthers scored their twelfth goal of the season and Roberto Luongo turned away 30 shots to spark the Cats to 3-2 over the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Panthers extended their franchise-record winning streak to eleven games and won for the fifth straight time on the road.
Seconds after Luongo stymied Kyle Turris, Reilly Smith open the scoring on Florida's first shot of the game at 12:01 of the first period. After Jonathan Huberdeau bunted a Aaron Ekblad clear into the Ottawa zone, Smith collected the puck and whipped a wrist shot from the right circle past goaltender Craig Anderson.
The Panthers scored again 8 seconds later after a charging Smith forced defenseman Fredrik Claesson into a ghastly turnover behind the Sens' goal line, which Vincent Trocheck capitalized on by ripping the puck home from the slot.
Smith almost delivered again late in the opening frame, but Anderson denied the dialed-in forward to keep his club within two.
Ottawa out-shot the Panthers by an 11-6 margin in the second period and posted the only goal of the stanza when Alex Petrovic's errant pass was intercepted by Max McCormick, who sniped Luongo for the first of NHL career.
With the Cats clinging to a one-goal lead Aleksander Barkov pushed the bulge back to two when he scored at 7:30 of the third period. Jaromir Jagr started an odd-man Florida rush after picking off a pass in his own end. After quickly playing catch with Huberbeau, the living legend sent the puck in front where Barkov was able to cash in.
The Senators struck back 2:22 later when Erik Karlsson picked up a loose puck at the blue line after Trocheck couldn't handle a pass from Brian Campbell and immediately let go of a shot which was deflected in by Milan Michalek.
Luongo shut the door the rest of the way, denying Turris for a sixth time with a minute to go, to give his streaking club yet another win and a sparkling 25-12-4 record at the halfway point of the season.
Law & Order
- Despite coming through with the win, the Panthers only tested nemesis Craig Anderson 16 times. No Cat had three shots on goal; Smith, Trocheck, Bjugstad and Kulikov were the only players to have two.
- Jonathan Huberdeau's two assists pulled him within a point (30-29) of Jaromir Jagr for the club scoring lead. The red-hot Huberdeau has 10 points over the last 9 games.
- The Panthers and Senators finished the hit parade tied at 30. Rookie Logan Shaw dished out the most capital punishment, finishing with a game-high six.
- Roberto Luongo established a new personal best with his ninth straight win. The last time Luongo was beaten came on December 12, a 3-1 loss to the Bruins in Boston. That was also the last time the Panthers dropped a roadie.
- Sens pivot Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a dominant night in the faceoff dot, winning 12 of the 14 draws he took.
- The Cats now boast an astonishing 17-3 record in their last 20 games. What the what...
- As per usual, war-on-ice has the handy advanced stats breakdown for you right here.
- The fine folks over at Silver Seven have the sad side of Florida latest win.
Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)