Evgeni Dadonov’s three-point night and a four-goal second period helped the Florida Panthers overcome a terrible first, as the club opened the new year with a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Despite scoring first, the Panthers found themselves dominated by the Senators in the opening period of play. Mike Hoffman’s pass across found its way through the skate of Ottawa Senators player Cody Goloubef, onto Dadonov’s stick who then had an open net for a power play goal at 1:41, but after that Ottawa took over, finishing the period with leads in hits, face off percentage, and on the scoreboard.
Turnovers by Anton Stralman and Mark Pysyk allowed Tyler Ennis to take the puck to the Panthers net. His shot attempt went off Riley Stillman’s stick and flipped over a stumbling Sergei Bobrovsky to tie the game at the 10:59 mark.
The ever-dangerous Anthony Duclair helped Ottawa take the lead on a nice play. Showing off the speed and skill that got him a nod for the All-Star Game, Duclair blew around Keith Yandle and slid a pass under a sprawling Aaron Ekblad to Chris Tierney for the go-ahead goal at 15:39.
Florida came out in the second period and flipped the script as they out-shot the Sens 15-6 and put up a four spot to take a 5-2 lead. Coach Q said he thought this might have been the best period they played all season, making all the right decisions with and without the puck.
The scoring started with a pair of goals a minute and a half apart as Dadonov potted his second goal of the game - another power-play marker - at 8:54 to tie the game, with assists by Jonathan Huberdeau and Yandle. At 10:23 Noel Acciari did what he does best, and what the Panthers have long been needing, as he set up in front of the net, fought for position, and took a pass from Vincent Trocheck for an easy shot into a wide open net giving the toothless wonder his 14th goal of the year.
Late in the period goals came in a pair once again as Vatrano skated into the slot and fired one in off the post and Anderson at 19:08 for a 4-2 lead to give Florida some breathing room. A disheartened looking Sens team quickly gave up another to Colton Sceviour 47 seconds later, with Mark Pysyk and Brian Boyle assisting on the goal.
A mostly uneventful third period saw the Senators attempt to make things interesting after a goal by Connor Brown with 2:45 to go in the game cut Florida’s lead to 5-3, but 59 seconds later Jonathan Huberdeau wiped out the potential comeback push with a floater from inside the Panther’s blue line for an empty net goal.
This was an important win for the Panthers to keep pace with the scoreboard as other teams in the playoff race didn’t help us out any, with both Toronto and Tampa Bay winning their games. Florida did gain ground on Philadelphia for the second wildcard position as they lost to the Golden Knights in Las Vegas. The Panthers are currently one point behind the Lightning, and four behind the Maple Leafs for third and seconnd place in the Atlantic Division.
Up next, the Panthers have a big game against Buffalo and the red-hot Eichel tower on Saturday afternoon.
- With two secondary assists, only one official giveaway, and a handful of eye test failures, Keith Yandle, a -2 on the night, pulled down 3rd star of the game.
- Mike Hoffman’s assist on the first goal of the game gives him 1 goal and 3 assists in 6 tilts versus his former team
- Ottawa hit two cross bars and the fans cried foul on a few missed calls by the refs. That’s the breaks.
- Craig Anderson came into the game 16-9-2 versus the Panthers, with 3 SO and a .921 save percent, but was hung out to dry to the sad trombone tune of 6 goals against on 31 shots
- Both goalies had deflections off the post bounce off their rear ends. Sergei Bobrovsky’s bottom knocked the puck barely wide of the net, while Anderson’s posterior wasn’t so lucky.
- An honourable nod to Aaron Ekblad, who despite having a few mistakes of his own played a quietly strong defensive game. He had 2 blocks, 2 takeaways and 3 shots on goal, while putting up with Yandle at his side.
- MacKenzie Weegar, an Ottawa native, missed his 12th game due to injury. A shout out to Mommy and Daddy Weegsie who I got to sit next to at a game four years ago - lovely people who had glowing things to say about Dale Tallon and the organization. We look forward to your son’s return! Get well soon MacKenzie. We need you.
- For more on the first of 2020 for the Cats and Sens check out Silver Seven.