A 12 second meltdown cost the Senators on Friday night, and now the Senators have to be looking over their shoulders just a bit and could use a couple of wins in the Sunshine State to make themselves feel a little more comfortable heading into the final few games of the season.
6:00 PM Puck Drop
TV: Rogers Sportsnet; RADIO: TEAM1200
HEAD TO HEAD
This will be the third and final meeting of the season, but the first time since the first week of the campaign. Craig Anderson was stellar in holding the Panthers to 1 goal total in the back to back games, a 4-0 shutout at home and then a 3-1 win in Florida 3 days later.
Florida will be playing the second half of a back to back after playing the Capitals on Saturday night, allowing Alex Ovechkin to bust loose with a hat trick and an assist before the Panthers scored three times in the third to make it close. But the Caps did hang on for the 4-3 win. Ottawa played in Buffalo on Friday, giving up 3 third period goals (including the winner and insurance marker in a 12 second span) to lose their third straight game, 4-2.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cory Conacher, OTT – The second leading rookie scorer in the NHL will be playing his second game in an Ottawa uniform after being acquired at Wednesday’s trade deadline. He played will in his debut in Buffalo, going +2 in just under 14 on an all-rookie line with Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverberg. Tuesday will be a big game for Conacher as he gets to face his old mates in Tampa, but he can’t look past this game. Became the Senators’ scoring leader by default when he joined the club, with 9 goals and 15 assists, all coming as a member of the Lightning.
Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA – The only rookie in the league with more points than Conacher, Huberdeau also leads his team in scoring. They are the only rookies in that position this season. The 2-time member of the Canadian Junior team has 13 goals and 13 assists this season, as the team’s 1st line centre. He currently holds a a 2 point cushion on Conacher for the rookie scoring lead.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Anderson or Lehner? – Will we finally get to see the return of Anderson? Robin Lehner didn’t have a great 3rd period in Buffalo (to put it mildly), and Anderson is a career 9-0-1 against the Florida team on which he served as a backup for 3 seasons. Anderson dressed as the backup in Buffalo, and hasn’t played since Feb. 21st.
2. Will Anyone Survive This Game? – There are no teams in the NHL who have been more affected by injury than the Senators and Panthers. Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Erik Karlsson, Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, Ed Jovanovski are among the impact players who will miss this game as they have a majority of the season.
3. Sens Need A Win – Ottawa’s 3 game losing streak has put them in a position that they haven’t been for most of the season. They are in 6th place, just two points up on the Rangers and Islanders who are hot on their tails. Toronto’s win on Saturday did help out keeping the Devils 5 points behind them, but Winnipeg now sits 9th, 4 points back in a fight that the Senators want to stay out of.
A sweep of this Florida trip will go a long way to easing the fears of the non-believers. If the Senators should happen to lose both, it could be panic time in the Nation’s Capital.