After a quick stop at home to beat the Panthers on Monday, the Ottawa Senators return the visit Thursday night.
2-0-0, T-2nd Eastern Conference
1-2-0, T-9th Eastern Conference
TV: Rogers Sportsnet, Radio: Team 1200
HEAD TO HEAD
Ottawa went 3-1 against the Panthers last season, winning both home games by 4-3 scores (the second one coming in overtime). Craig Anderson earned the shutout Monday as the Senators soundly defeated the Panthers 4-0.
What a difference one game makes. Ottawa and Florida each came in with a 1-0 record prior to their meeting on Monday. Florida followed up their 4-0 loss to the Senators with a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night and are now reeling and need to get back into the win column. Scott Clemmensen lost his first start of the season against the Habs after Jose Theodore played well but lost in Ottawa. Meanwhile, the Senators are still unbeaten and in the thick of the Eastern Conference leaders. The Boston Bruins gained a single point against the Rangers on Wednesday to take a 1 point lead in the Northeast Divsion, while Ottawa is tied for second with the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston has the night off while all the other Northeast teams are in action.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jason Spezza, OTT – A relatively quiet start to the season while adjusting to a new linemate (Jakob Silfverberg), Spezza has 2 assists in his first 2 games. Spezza is ready to break out with a big game, and will drag his linemates along with him.
Jose Theodore, FLA – He was the only reason that the Panthers stayed within two goals for so long on Monday. Was rested on Tuesday so will be ready to go at home against the Sens. Needs to have a great game for the Panthers to win most nights.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Returning The Favour – The Panthers will be looking to return the favour to the Senators after suffering a humiliating defeat in Ottawa, in a game that they were never really in from the opening puck drop.
2. Florida’s Tired Legs - The Panthers are playing their fourth game in six nights, with travel between each match. Ottawa would be well advised to roll all 4 lines and keep the pressure on the tired Florida legs, especially the defensemen like Ed Jovanovski and Filip Kuba. They will break down in the third period.
3. Kovalev Due? – After scoring 3 points in the season opener, Alex Kovalev has been pointless for two games. That is par for the course for the streaky veteran, so he could be due for another outburst. Or, he could go another 5 or 6 games without showing any interest in being there.
Ottawa has done a good job so far of playing to its schedule. This will be the first of 3 games in 4 days, with a stop Friday in Tampa and then home for their toughest test of the young season, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The first 14 games of the season has a lot of games the Senators should win, and this is one of them. They cannot afford to leave these points on the table because there will be stretches where points will be difficult to come by, and having banked points can only benefit the team.
Enjoy the game!