As they did against both Edmonton and New York, the Panthers got off to a another slow start, only firing seven shots at former farmhand Mike McKenna, who was making his first start of the season in place of Craig Anderson. Frank Vatrano got called for cross-checking late in the frame, and Ottawa took advantage to take the lead. After Chris Tierney gained the zone, he went back to Maxim Lajoie at the point. The defenseman quickly went back down the boards to Tierney, who found a streaking Ryan Dzingel at step or two ahead of Jared McCann in the middle of the ice, and the speedster snapped a shot from the high slot by James Reimer’s glove with a 1:35 left in the period.
The Cats responded quickly in the second to tie the game. After Mike Matheson missed wide, the rebound came off boards out to Evgenii Dadonov, who went cross-ice to Mike Hoffman, who teed up Aleksander Barkov in the slot and he lifted the puck over McKenna’s glove at the 3:05 mark. Less than three minutes later, Jonathan Huberdeau took a pass from Vincent Trocheck and slung a low wrist shot by McKenna to give the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish. The second assist on the power-play goal went to Keith Yandle. Barkov notched his second of the tilt with a brilliant individual play at 14:57. Bogdan Kiselevich tossed the puck up ice and Barkov gathered it in after lifting Christian Jaros’ stick at the Ottawa blue line and moved in on McKenna before blasting it high over the sprawling netminder. Hoffman drew the second assist for his second point of the night. Rookie Juho Lammikko picked up his first NHL point when he dumped the puck around the boards to Colton Sceviour behind the net. Sceviour made a Gretzky-esque pass to Troy Brouwer, who launched it top shelf from in tight at 16:03, giving the grizzled veteran a goal in the last two games. A couple minutes later, Kiselevich sprung Huberdeau and Vatrano on a 2-on-2 break and the former set up the latter for the goal. McKenna got a piece of Vatrano’s shot, but not enough to keep it out of the net. The Panthers scored three goals in a 3:14 span to turn a one-goal game into a laugher.
Holding its biggest lead of the young season, the Panthers sat on said lead in the third and let Reimer take of business. Reimer stopped all 18 Senators shots in the stanza to finish with 34 saves in his best start of the campaign. Nick Bjugstad had a good chance to put the Cats up by five, but his chip shot ended up going out of play. No worries, save it for the next game. McKenna turned aside 11 shots in the third to finish with 35 saves for the Sens.
The Panthers did what they had to do to end the homestand on a winning note, giving themselves a four-game winning streak after a tough 2-5-3 start. Florida outscored the Oilers, Islanders and Senators by a combined total of 13-4. Barkov, Hoffman, Huberdeau and Kiselevich each posted two-point nights and Hoffman (12) and Dadonov (11) each extended their long scoring streaks. Florida will kick off a six-game road trip against Eastern Conference foes on Tuesday night in Philadelphia, looking to avenge a 6-5 shootout loss to the Flyers in October.