Florida Panthers demolish the Ottawa Senators, winning 7-2 on the road

OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 20: Keith Yandle
OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 20: Keith Yandle /

Following the Florida Panthers’ impressive shutout victory, officially/mathematically eliminating the depleted, injury-riddled Montreal Canadiens squad from playoff contention, the streaking Cats challenged the Karlsson-less Ottawa Senators, hoping for an additional 2 points.

The resurgent James Reimer, victorious against divisional foes BUF and BOS (conceived solely one goal combined), opposed former Panther Craig Anderson. Ultimately however, only one goaltender would end up victorious, but who would it be?

With premier offensive-defenseman Erik Karlsson becoming unexpectedly scratched because of a family related matter (death of Erik’s expected child – my condolences), the Panthers unquestionably gained the upper-hand, regarding their current probabilities of winning.

Additionally, Alexander Petrovic (nagging injury) and Maxim Mamin (benched/healthy-scratched) were notable scratches, with promising youngster Ian McCoshen and gritty enforcer Micheal Haley becoming inserted as instant replacements.

Early on, the Cats pounced rather quickly, striking first-blood against Ottawa, courtesy of Colton Sceviour’s 9th goal of the season. Following Derek MacKenzie’s offensive-zone faceoff win, defensive D-man Mark Pysyk swiftly retrieved the swirling puck, wiring a wrister towards Anderson’s cage. As the puck was flying mid-air towards Craig’s vicinity, Colton unknowingly and unintentionally redirected the puck behind Anderson, providing FLA with a commanding 1-0 lead:

However, Florida’s temporary lead was short-lived, as Ottawa eventually erased their one-goal deficit, courtesy of Patrick Sieloff’s 1st goal of the season. Essentially, following Sieloff’s point-shot, the puck crammed directly off the end boards, landing on Reimer’s backside, with James moving backwards and the puck crossing the goal-line, in result.

Although OTT’s unanticipated goal stunned FLA, the Cats answered quickly, with high-scoring defenseman Keith Yandle rapidly regaining Florida’s one-goal lead, scoring his 7th goal of the season.

Yandle, widely recognized as a phenomenal passing defenseman (assist-machine), received an effective outlet dime from Jonathan Huberdeau, racing swiftly and outskating numerous Sens, and finishing beautifully by launching an absolute laser-beam top-shelf (2-1 FLA):

Furthermore, the Panthers received a temporary scare; as perennial all-star Vincent Trocheck suffered/sustained a minor upper-body injury, accidentally blocking the point-shot by MacKenzie Weegar. However, Vinny soon returned following the minor in-game delay. With the conclusion of the 1st period, both sides remained on the ice, immediately commencing the 2nd frame, strangely enough.

In the 2nd period, the Panthers continued their dominance offensively against OTT, with Evgeni Dadonov scoring FLA’s 3rd goal of the night. Essentially, FLA’s top-line displayed their brilliance, with Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov dishing incredibly precise passes, and Dadonov capitalizing off Barky’s magnificent rocket-pass (3-1 FLA). Moreover, and more impressively, Nick Bjugstad established a career-high mark regarding single-season point totals, registering 44 crucial points.

Thereafter, Florida promptly continued their onslaught, with Jared McCann potting a miraculous breakaway goal, extending FLA’s lead and slowly crumbling OTT’s slim playoff hopes. Following McCann’s 8th of the year, giving Florida a three-goal cushion (4-1 FLA), Craig Anderson was subsequently yanked in favor of backup netminder Mike Condon:

The goalie-switch provided OTT with short-term momentum; as Marian Gaborik sliced FLA’s enormous lead in half, scoring a highly preventable goal, considering “Optimus Reims” surprisingly misjudged the flying puck mid-air (4-2 FLA).

Although, FLA inevitably distanced themselves from OTT, widening the goal differential, courtesy of Frank Vatrano’s 3rd as a Panther. Vatrano received an absolutely sensational assist from Yandle (42nd helper of the season), and rifled a blistering wrister behind Mike Condon’s cage, providing FLA with a three-goal lead (5-2 FLA):

Shortly afterwards, Nick Bjugstad tacked on an additional goal (6-2 FLA), safely securing FLA’s chances of obtaining a much-needed victory. Bjugstad’s 17th of the season was assisted by Barkov and Dadonov, meaning all three linemates registered 2 points versus OTT, combining for 6 points overall.

The Cats carried a whopping four-goal cushion into the dressing room, concluding the 2nd period of play, comfortably manhandling the lowly Sens. The 3rd period commenced, with Florida continually applying relentless offensive-zone pressure, despite maintaining a commanding four-goal lead. Ottawa was consistently trailing throughout the course of the game; however, Florida shockingly competed, battled, and played with greater desperation and a glaring sense of urgency.

With FLA’s playoff chances on-the-line, Bob Boughner commanded a constant aggressive o-zone attacking scheme; hence, explaining why Florida was constantly outshooting Ottawa, in result. Moreover, Jamie McGinn followed Bob’s exhaustive strategies of consistent aggression offensively, recording an additional goal, and extending FLA’s lead, once more (7-2 FLA):

In addition, Jared McCann achieved a career-high feat of 3 points produced in a single game, becoming credited with an assist on McGinn’s highly improbable goal.

Essentially, with superb goaltending by James Reimer and outstanding offensive production, the Cats easily clobbered the disadvantaged Senators, winning by a final score line of 7-2.

Following NJD’s subsequent loss, FLA currently trails NJ by solely 1 point with 2 games in hand (Florida’s current playoff odds: 69.3%). Florida challenges an insanely red-hot CBJ squad (riding an absurd 9 game-winning streak) on the road @7:30pm, with massive playoff implications involved. Roberto Luongo will likely receive the start, opposing superstar netminder Sergei Bobrovsky for Columbus.