Saturday nights seems like a long long time ago now. After an exhilarating 5-1 win at home over Carolina, the Panthers have dropped three straight games. Tonight against Ottawa, the Florida struggled to generate any offense. The Panthers jumped out to an early lead when Tomas Fleischmann scored on the power play, his first goal of the season. The Senators proceeded to score a power play goal of their own shortly after. The game winner came from Erik Karlsson in the middle of the second. Karlsson intercepted an errant Shawn Matthias pass and wristed the puck over Jose Theodore‘s shoulder. Spezza iced the game late in the third with an empty net goal. Jose Theodore was strong in the net stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced and the Panthers continued their inability to figure out Senators goalie Craig Anderson who stopped 25 of the 26 shots the Panthers sent his way.
Florida has struggled on offense after their five goal outburst Saturday night. The team has especially struggled to generate any offense when playing even strength and tonight was no different as their only goal came on the power play. Injuries continue to be a factor for the Panthers. In addition to missing Goc, Bergenheim, Versteeg and Gudbranson, Stephen Weiss was a late scratch with a lower body injury. Mike Santorelli filled in for the injured Weiss. What was envisioned to be the Panther’s top scoring line of Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg is now taking the ice in the form of Fleischmann-Santorelli-Kovalev.
The Panthers came out of the gate slow and were bailed out by some big saves early on by goaltender Jose Theodore. Fleishmann’s power play goal was very much against the “run of play”. Kopecky and Campbell were credited with the assists as Kopecky was strong on an offensive face-off winning the puck back to Campbell who in turn dished to Fleischmann. Fleischmann took a few steps into an open shooting lane and finished with a strong wrist shot to beat Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson.
The shift after the goal, Fleischmann was called for hooking and shortly thereafter Upshall was called for hooking as well putting the Panthers on a 5 on 3 penalty kill. Theodore faced a barrage of shots on the two man disadvantage and proved he was up to the task. When Fleischmann’s penalty was up, it felt like the Panthers would escape a dangerous situation but with time running out on Upshall’s penalty, Ottawa defender Chris Phillips ripped a slap shot that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net to tie the game at one.
The Florida Panthers took the game to the Senators in the second period but came up empty on a number of scoring chances. Alex Kovalev displayed his patience and hands on one play where he bought some time in front of the Senators net before dishing to an open Scottie Upshall. The massive amount of twine in front of Upshall must have distracted him as he whiffed on the shot thus letting possibly the best Panthers scoring chance of the evening slip through his grasp.
It was clear from watching Karlsson play how he led all defensemen in scoring last year. His willingness to gamble and risk odd man rushes going the other way paid off big time on his goal in the second period. After Jose Theodore had stopped a burst of Senators shots, the puck came to Shawn Matthias who took it the other way. Matthias tried to make a cross ice pass in his own defensive zone that Karlsson promptly picked off. Karlsson then displayed his speed skating to the face-off dot and ripping a shot top shelf over Theodore’s left shoulder.
Two goals proved to be all the Senators needed as they put the clamps down on the Panthers in the third period. It was clear that all Ottawa needed to do to preserve the win was sit back in their own defensive zone and prevent the Panthers from carrying the puck into the Senators zone. This strategy made it hard for Florida to ever set up offensively.
At 10:49 in the third period a blocked Brian Campbell slap shot turned into a breakaway for Senator Guillaume Latendresse. Campbell had to hook Latendresse to the ice and the refs awarded Latendresse a penalty shot. Jose Theodore made the stop preserving the 2-1 deficit and any hope for a Panthers comeback. The best chance in the third period came on a pretty passing play between Huberdeau, Kopecky and Mueller. The play resulted in Mueller getting an open look at Craig Anderson but Anderson made a beautiful glove save to preserve his teams lead.
With 1:16 remaining in the third, Jason Spezza scored his first of the season putting the puck into the empty net. His goal sealed the loss for the Panthers who will play again this Saturday at home against Philadelphia.
- Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson improved to 9-0-0-1 against his former team. Hows that for dominance!
- Weiss was a very late scratch for the Panthers, hopefully is injury (lower body) is not serious.
- Versteeg will be eligible to play Saturday whether he actually does or not is still up in the air.
- Goc and Gudbranson should return sometime next week while Bergenheim’s injury seems to be more serious.
- The players that impressed me tonight were Skille, Matthias, Shore, and Kovalev
- Matthias did make the errant pass that led to the second goal but looked active throughout the game and generated some positive plays as well. Kind of an “other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the rest of the play” situation.
- Just as I was thinking to myself in the second period “its nice that I haven’t seen Ed Jovanovski out there in a while,” there he was turning the puck over right in front of Jose Theodore and the Panther net. I know Ed’s a Panther legend and the team captain but at times he looks so slow out there I just cannot help getting on him a bit.
- Did the fans in South Florida know there was a game tonight? It wouldn’t be realistic to expect a crowd like Saturday against Carolina but the BB&T Center did look pretty empty.