The Florida Panthers tightened up defensively, for the most part, but could only dent the twine once in a 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night at the BB&T Center.
With the win, Ottawa remained in second place in the Atlantic Division, just two points behind first place Montreal with two games in the hand.
Florida is now three points behind Toronto, which holds the second wild card, with each team having 21 games remaining.
The Senators opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal 6:28 into the action, thanks to wheels of Erik Karlsson. Karlsson collected a loose puck in his own end and used his speed to create a 2-on-1 break. James Reimer made a nice save on the defenseman, but the rebound came right to Zack Smith who easily buried it.
The Panthers got another man-advantage chance later in the period and got it right this time. Jonathan Marchessault bagged his nineteenth at the 17:13 mark after Jonathan Huberdeau’s cross-ice feed rendered Ottawa keeper Craig Anderson helpless. Keith Yandle drew the second assist on the pretty, pretty passing play.
Kyle Turris scored the go-ahead goal 9:58 into the middle frame after a short head-man pass from Mike Hoffman allowed him to move in on Reimer and roof the puck. Karlsson started the play off with a bullet pass from his own end to Hoffman at the blue line.
Anderson finished the game with 37 saves to deny his old team, who couldn’t come up with a goal over the final forty minutes, just the game prior against Calgary. The goaltender’s best stop came just over a minute after Turris’ goal, when snake-bitten Reilly Smith was forced to smell the glove after Anderson robbed him of what looked a sure score.
The Panthers finish off what has turned into a house of horrors homestand against the reeling Carolina Hurricanes, who have lost six of their last seven, on Tuesday. Florida needs to right the ship and snap its three-game losing streak before heading off to Philadelphia for a one-off roadie.
Law & Order
- Florida latest defeat, their fourth in a row at the BB&T Center, dropped their home record to 14-13-3. Not sure what the problem is, but If the Cats want to make the playoffs they simply must start winning at home.
- Zack Smith’s goal was his third shorthanded marker of the season, tying him with six other players for the league-lead.
- James Reimer made 31 stops in a hard-luck quality start. With Roberto Luongo struggling as of late, Reimer needs to see more action going forward.
- Jonathan Huberdeau’s beautiful set up on Jonathan Marchesault’s goal gave him 10 points in 10 games since returning to the lineup.
- Speaking of Marchessault, he has scored a goal in three of Florida last four games. The 26-year-old led his club with six shots on goal.
- Kyle Turris paced the Senators with six shots and his game-winner was his fifth of the year in that department.
- For more on the final regular season game between Ottawa and Florida, visit Silver Seven Sens.