The Florida Panthers started slow and then rallied twice before giving up two late goals in a disappointing 5-3 loss to the seventh-place Ottawa Senators. The defeat ended Florida franchise-best eight-game winning streak on home ice.
Matt Duchene opened the scoring with his 20th goal just 57 seconds into the action. Erik Karlsson sent Mike Hoffman out of the Ottawa zone and eventually he found Duchene with a bouncing cross-ice pass that the former Colorado Avalanche center snapped home from the right circle.
The Senators added another goal later in the period when Magnus Paajarvi deflected Fredrik Claesson’s lazy shot from the point by Roberto Luongo at the 15:16 mark. Tom Pyatt collected the second assist for hacking the puck across the slot to Calesson.
Birthday boy Evgenii Dadonov halved the deficit with his 22nd goal 12:36 into the middle frame. Aleksander Barkov broke up a play in his own end and passed to Nick Bjugstad, who sprang Dadonov down the left wing. The speedy Russian took advantage of a misstep by Claesson and fired the puck by Craig Anderson from the left faceoff dot.
Mike Matheson would finish off a great set up by Vincent Trocheck to tie the game with 2:32 left in the period, Jonathan Huberdeau chipped the puck into the zone off the side boards and Trocheck beat his man before finding Matheson with a sweet pass in the left circle.
After being outscored by two and outshot 17-2 in the second, the Senators quickly regained the lead 43 seconds into the third period. Paajarvi got his second of the game when Thomas Chabot’s shot hit the backside of Alex Petrovic and came right to him in front and he hammered it home.
The Panthers quickly responded and tied the tilt again when Huberdeau tipped in a nice goalmouth pass from Trocheck 3:40 later. Huberdeau played catch with MacKenzie Weegar to move the puck up the ice before driving to the net to finish the play off for his 23rd goal.
With overtime looming, Duchene struck the decisive blow with three minutes left on the clock. Cody Ceci flipped the puck into the Panthers end and Aaron Ekblad knocked it down, allowing Hoffman to scoop it up and round the net with speed. Luongo went down, thinking Hoffman was going to try a wraparound, but instead the winger found Duchene in the right circle and he ripped it top shelf for the eventual game-winner.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau put in his own rebound 1:15 later to put the game out of reach, handing the Cats their first loss at the BB&T Center since February 9. The assists on the insurance goal went to Karlsson and Alex Burrows.
The Panthers were done in by slow starts in both the first and third periods, allowing goals before in the one minute mark in each. Anderson made 35 saves, including one on a late third period breakaway by Barkov with the game tied to raise his record against his former team to 15-7-2. The loss, coupled with Columbus’ 5-2 win over Montreal, left the Cats three points behind the New Jersey Devils for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida still has two games in hand on New Jersey.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Law & Order
- Magnus Paajarvi’s two-goal performance was his first multi-point game with Ottawa since he was acquired from the St. Louis Blues in late January.
- Defenseman Keith Yandle played in his 700th consecutive game, the longest active streak in the NHL.
- Vincent Trocheck collected his 200th career point on Mike Matheson’s second period tally. Matheson reached double-digit goals for the first time in his career.
- Ottawa blueliner Fredrik Claesson played his 100th NHL game and blocked two shots and dished out three hits in addition to his helper.
- Nick Bjugstad led all skaters with six shots on goal and now has points in six of his last seven games.
- Denis Malgin logged 14:23 TOI after missing the past seven games with an ankle injury. Malgin failed to register a shot on goal and finished with a -1 rating.
- Roberto Luongo stopped 20 of the 25 shots he faced and took his eighth loss of the season.
- For more on Ottawa’s streak-busting win, surf your way over to Silver Seven.
Condensed Game (courtesy of NHL.com)