Even on the fourth line, Evgenii Dadonov led the Florida Panthers to a bounce-back victory over the Ottawa Senators.
After an upsetting win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers head coach, Joel Quenneville, was trying to wake up a few of his forwards. Given his poor performance over the past few weeks, Mike Hoffman was moved to the first line to try to find a spark with the big boys up front in Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov. The result: he received a resurgence from another player.
When Coach Q moved Hoffman to the top line, he was forced to move someone else to the fourth line to maintain the chemistry of the other lines. It may have been an indirect message, but boy did Evgenii Dadonov wake up from the little switch made by the head coach. As the Panthers headed north of the border to face the Ottawa Senators, Dadonov got off to a quick start.
As they left the state of Ohio with an unexpected loss, the Panthers were expected to bounce back as they needed a divisional win against the Sens. When Keith Yandle put the puck in front on the man advantage, the rebound was ready to be picked up and buried by Evgeni Dadonov after a touch by, ironically, Mike Hoffman. While the early lead was nice, it wouldn’t last too long.
When Anton Stralman’s clearing attempt failed for a second time, it felt like something bad was brewing for the Panthers. After a steal and a deflection and a series of bad bounces, the puck ended up on the stick of Tyler Ennis for Ottawa’s tying goal. To make matters worse, the Sens picked up a 2-1 lead courtesy of Chris Tierney with only five minutes left in the first.
After a wake-up call from Dale Tallon during an interview from the first intermission where he criticized the team’s first-period performance, the Cats took it to Ottawa in the following frame. On the power play, once again, Dadonov finished his usual one-timer to tie it up for the Cats. Less than two minutes later, the Panthers took the lead thanks to Noel Acciari, starting the burst of offense.
As the best scoring team in the league in the second period, the Panthers continued to take it to the Sens. Late in the period, a great pass by who else but Evgenii Dadonov set up Frank Vatrano to give the Panthers a two-goal lead. If that wasn’t comfortable enough, Colton Sceviour finished off a strong period by giving them a three-goal lead heading into the third.
The third period started off slow, with both teams trading off chances and penalties that led to no goals in the back of the net. With less than three minutes remaining, the Sens made it interesting after a Keith Yandle turnover gave way to an Ottawa goal for Connor Brown. As the home team kept putting on the pressure, it was too little too late.
With less than two minutes left, Jonathan Huberdeau gave Florida their sixth goal of the night to seal the deal for their first win of the road trip. The goal was assisted by Riley Stillman – who recorded his first NHL point on the play. This took away any chance for a last-second Ottawa comeback, leading to a win for Sergei Bobrovsky and the Florida Panthers.
After a questionable move behind the bench, Coach Q made a great decision to wake up his forward group as they put up a six-spot on the Sens. While All-Star Jonathan Huberdeau had a few points, the three-point night for Evgenii Dadonov was impressive as he got his 15th and 16th goals of the season. While the big boys took over the night, it was a great team effort for a much-needed win for Florida.
After a quick chance up front, the Florida Panthers had a convincing win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. Your Panthers are back in action on Thursday, January. 2 @ 1 P.M. against the Buffalo Sabres.