Panthers Finally Figure Out Senators

SUNRISE, Fla. – It took 10 games and three seasons, but the Florida Panthers finally figured out the Ottawa Senators Sunday afternoon in a 3-2 victory at the BankAtlantic Center.

The Panthers, winless since a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs and with the rest of the Southeast Division breathing down their necks, were desperate for a win. Their desperation seemed to find deaf ears in the first period, as Ottawa went out to an early two goal lead.

Florida had come in 0-8-1 in their last nine against the Sens.

At the 13:23 mark in the opening frame, the Senators struck first blood, scoring from Jared Cowen’s point shot. It was his first goal of the season.

Later, 18:32 into the period, Chris Neil shot a loose puck through traffic past Theodore to make it 2-0. It was Neil’s 11th goal of the 2011-12 campaign.

Robin Lehner, playing in his fifth game of the year in place of injured starter Craig Anderson and former Panther backup Alex Auld, was solid in the first, stopping the first nine shots he faced, but he didn’t come out as sharp in the second.

Marcel Goc opened the scoring in the second quickly. at :33 in, as he tipped a shot of Mike Weaver’s stick into the net cutting the lead in half. It was his seventh goal of the year.

“That goal on the first shift of the second was big, it got us right into it,” forward Stephen Weiss said. “We were rolling from there. We got the momentum back on our side and that was enough.”

Just a couple of minutes later, at the 2:54 mark, Krys Barch found himself on a rare breakaway, and scored his second goal of the season, beating Lehner to the left, knotting the score at 2 goals apiece.

“I tried to turn my mind off for a couple of seconds and it worked out,” Barch said. You’re in the moment and you don’t really think. I just went in and saw he was out a little bit and went around.”

“He’s got some moves. You see it in practice,” Weiss said. “When he gets chances, he can be pretty deadly.”

10 minutes into the second, Neil hi-sticked Ed Jovanovski into the Panthers goal, drawing blood as the stick hit his face. The Panthers went on a four-minute powerplay on the double minor, but needed just one minute, as Mikael Samuelsson put Florida ahead 3-2 on his ninth goal of the season. Weiss has the puck in the left corner behind the icing line and passed it to a crashing Sameulsson in front, who had an easy wrist shot.

Jack Skille sealed the deal 18:34 into the third period as he led a rush up the left side of the ice, with Tomas Fleischmann on the right. He got the puck when Shawn Matthias was tripped up and lost possession. Instead of passing, Skille held onto the puck and came in front of Lehner, beating him to the right from just outside of the goal mouth.

NOTES:

  • Forward Kris Versteeg missed his sixth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury.
  • Defenseman Erik Gudbranson was a healthy scratch, with coach Kevin Dineen saying he wanted the rookie defenseman to take a day off and rest.

THREE STARS:

  1. Marcel Goc (FLA) G,
  2. Mike Weaver (FLA) A
  3. Jack Skille (FLA) G, A
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