Craig Anderson made 25 saves and Erik Karlsson had the game winner as the Ottawa Senators improved to 3-0 with a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers. The Panthers, after winning their opener, have dropped 3 straight and were without top centre Stephen Weiss who was a late scratch with a lower body injury. Chris Phillips and Jason Spezza had the other Ottawa goals as they remain perfect on the young season, one of only 2 Eastern Conference teams without a loss (New Jersey Devils being the other).
The action was heated early on, as Jose Theodore robbed Colin Greening on a rebound when Greening thought he had an open net. Theodore got a pad on it with a 2 pad stack. With Sergei Gonchar in the box for interference, Tomas Fleischmann stepped in from the point and put a snap shot through Anderson to break the ice for the Panthers. Fleischmann then took a penalty right after the goal, and then a minute later Scottie Upshall took a hooking penalty to give Ottawa a full minute 5 on 3. Despite a flurry of scoring chances the Senators could not capitalize with the two man advantage. However, as the second penalty was running out, Phillips’ one-timer from the point beat Theodore to even the score. Ottawa had to kill off a couple more penalties, bu they escaped the first period still tied at 1.
Anderson stoned Jonathan Huberdeau all alone on a point blank chance on the power play, which created a scoring chance the other way. Marc Methot was stopped after he left the box but Karlsson picked off a puck just outside the Panthers blue line and caught everyone flat-footed. He walked in alone and beat Theodore far side with a quick snap shot to give the Senators the lead. Anderson saved his own butt, and the Senators’ lead, when he dove back into the net to rob Alex Kovalev after the Ottawa goalie turned the puck over on a shootaround. Zach Smith missed a glorious chance in front of the net off a Panther turnover, shooting wide. Kovalev stick-handled through the entire Senators team and instead of shooting he dished to Upshall, who obviously didn’t expect the pass and mishandled the puck while staring at a yawning cage. Despite the chances, Karlsson’s goal was the only marker of the second as the Sens carried a 2-1 lead into the third.
Florida, on the tail end of 4 games in 6 nights, didn’t have much push in the third period as the Senators defended the lead. Theodore stoned Guillaume Latendresse on a penalty shot after the big winger was hauled down on a breakaway. With just over 6 minutes left, Anderson made his best save of the night, a glove save off Peter Mueller who was alone in close. It proved to be the last gasp for the Panthers, as Spezza clinched the game with an empty netter just seconds after Theodore went to the bench for an extra attacker.
- Latendresse is not a good skater. It will hamper his ability to stay on the second line for too long, since I haven’t seen him show the hockey sense to make up for the lack of speed and mobility.
- Fleischmann’s goal ended Anderson’s 122:24 shutout streak.
- I really like the variety of penalty killers Paul MacLean is using. Each pair brings a different style and the change-up from unit to unit will cause some shorthanded chances as the season rolls on. Players (especially Jason Spezza) need to make sure they take care of their own end first on the PK if they want to continue to be given chances in the role.
- Ottawa has not allowed an even strength goal this season. They have also not allowed a 2nd period or 3rd period goal either. The two goals they have allowed have both been first period power play goals.
- Ottawa has come from behind in two of their wins, as both goals they allowed were “first” goals of the games.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Anderson had his shutout streak snapped at just over 2 full games, but he was the difference for the Senators in this game. His positioning was sound, as I don’t think he saw probably 1/3 of the shots that he stopped. If he doesn’t end up as player of the week (3-0, 1 SO, 0.33 GAA, .976 SP) there is something wrong, although it might come down to how he plays on Sunday against Pittsburgh. Either way, he will get a well deserved rest Friday as Ben Bishop will take over the net for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Senators play their first of 8 back to back sets as they make the short trek to Tampa to face Steven Stamkos and the Lightning on Friday night.