In what has become a season long “Epitaph”, Ottawa’s Matt Carkner basically buried Florida’s Rostislav Olesz Saturday night enroute to a 3-2 victory, thus virtually all but knocking the Panthers out of the playoffs. As Olesz was skating down the wing with his head down, Carkner lowered the boom on the Panther forward knocking him directly on his arse. Olesz would go off to the dressing room, get stitched up, and ended up returning to action. No penalty was called, and basically no retaliation from Florida even with enforcer Steve MacIntyre in the lineup. Although Nick Tarnasky did follow up with a check to Carkner into the boards, nothing much came of it.
The game started out slowly as both teams seemed a bit timid, but after the hit on Olesz in the second period, things picked up slightly and Florida got on the board first as Little Stevie squirmed his way up ice and cut between Ottawa defencemen Andy Sutton and Anton Volchenkov, and put a shot past goalie Brian Elliott to put Florida ahead. However the Senators got goals from Matt Cullen and Peter Regin within two minutes of each other late in the period, giving Ottawa the lead.
In the third period with the Panthers already starting out short handed with Radek Dvorak in the box, Bryan McCabe was called for a penalty for using a broken stick on a play which found himself alone with Sens forward Mike Underwood Fisher. As Fisher made an attempt to shoot, McCabe’s stick broke and as he dove to try and block Fisher’s shot, he was called for the infraction. Daniel Alfredsson scored during the man advantage in what proved to be the winning goal.
Steven Reinprecht would score for Florida in the third on a 5 on 3 advantage in a penaty filled period, but Florida would not be able to convert again on another 5 on 3. Tomas Vokoun who now has lost his last five starts, was pulled late, but to no avail.
The Panthers with their lineup missing David Booth (who is officially done for the year) and Gregory Campbell who is out with a foot injury, juggled the third and fourth lines. Steve MacIntyre saw the ice for a grand total of 3:05, and rookie defenceman Keaton Ellerby saw 3:36 minutes of ice time as coach Peter DeBoer relied mostly on his first three lines, and tried to keep MacIntyre and Tarnasky off the ice at the same time.
The loss now puts Florida nine points out of the final spot in the East and drops them to 13th in the conference.
Four games this week with Nashville visiting the Bank Atlantic Center Monday night to start things off.
In a season which initially had some promise, it is now ending up worse than even I expected. Florida could actually finish 15th in the East, which would be three spots lower than I predicted at the start of the season.
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