Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored twice including the game-winner in overtime to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers at Canadian Tire Centre.
Pageau, a thorn in Florida’s side all night, had the best chance of a scoreless first period, but hit the post. Undeterred, he opened the scoring 1:24 into the second after a taking a pass from Mike Hoffman behind the net and tucking the puck in on James Reimer’s short-side. The second assist on the goal went to Tom Pyatt, who was denied on the doorstep by Reimer.
Aaron Ekblad scored on a beautiful individual effort at the 5:19 mark to knot the score. Ekblad took a drop pass from Jamie McGinn and bullied his way through the slot and into the right circle before firing the puck by Craig Anderson. Keith Yandle drew the second helper on Ekblad’s 16th goal, which came on a power-play and established a new career-high for the young defenseman.
The Panthers forged ahead 1:31 later when Alex Petrovic sent MacKenzie Weegar into the Ottawa zone with speed. Weegar cruised down the right side uncontested and threaded a pass, that just got by Bobby Ryan’s stick, to Evgenii Dadonov, who ripped the puck off the post and in for his 26th goal.
Florida’s penchant for allowing goals early in periods cost them dearly in third. The Senators outworked the Cats behind the net and the puck came to Thomas Chabot, who smacked it across the ice to Erik Karlsson. Karlsson quickly dropped it back to Zack Smith and his slap-pass found the stick of Magnus Paajarvi and deflected by Reimer just 16 seconds into the frame.
Anderson, who finished with 24 saves, made a big stop on Mike Matheson in the dying seconds of regulation and then denied the defenseman again in overtime with this fine pad save.
Matheson chopped down Pageau on a 2-on-1 break with sixteen seconds left in the extra session, giving the speedy Ottawa forward a penalty shot. Pageau moved in on Reimer and finished off the Panthers with a wrist shot that slipped through the goaltender’s five-hole.
For the second time in seventeen days, the Panthers were beaten by the seventh-place Senators. While the first one hurt, this one could be devastating to the Cats dwindling playoff chances. The March 12th tilt was tied heading into the third period and in this game, the Cats held the lead with twenty minutes to go and again failed to come up with a win. The Devils lost in overtime to the Penguins, so the Panthers blew a big chance to shave a bit off the deficit and now only have six games left to make up three points on New Jersey. Impossible? No, but a tough, tough task with three games with the Bruins and one against Nashville left on the slate.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Law & Order
- Magnus Paajarvi only has eight goals this season, but he could end up being one of the reasons why the Panthers miss the playoffs. Paajarvi scored twice in Ottawa’s 5-3 win on March 12 in Sunrise and his nifty deflection sent this one to overtime.
- With an assist on Paajarvi’s tying goal, Erik Karlsson has five 50-assist seasons in the NHL. Karlsson has 17 points (4G/13A) in his past 13 games.
- In addition to setting a new-career high with his 16th goal, Aaron Ekblad tied Jason Garrison’s team record for most goals in a season by a defenseman, set in 2011-12.
- James Reimer made 27 saves and saw his five-game winning streak come to end. Reimer is 7-1-1 since returning from injured reserve.
- Aleksander Barkov was held off the score sheet for the second straight night. Barkov failed to register a shot on goal in Toronto, but did get three last night. The Panthers are going to need Barkov to get hot over these final six games.
- Henrik Borgstrom made his big-league debut and finished with two shots on goal in 12:41 TOI.
- For more on the game that split the season series, check out Silver Seven Sens.