The Ottawa Senators are looking for any positives these days, and they hope to build off earning a point against the NHL’s top team when they visit the Florida Panthers on Saturday. The Senators coughed up a lead in the third period but still recorded a point for the third time on four games (2-1-1) in a 4-3 shootout loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday.
“I thought we did a great job of limiting their opportunities and just playing together,” Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson told reporters. “We worked hard and battled for 65 minutes, and if we keep doing that, we’ll get the results that we need.” The Senators still are 10 points out of a playoff spot and three behind the Panthers, who are 3-2-1 in their last six games after rallying for a 4-2 win over Minnesota on Friday. Jonathan Huberdeau ended his four-game point drought with a pair of goals in the victory and took over the team lead with 36 points for Florida, which also came back in the third period to win at Arizona on Tuesday. “You could feel the confidence in the room (before the third period),” Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad told FSN Florida after the win. “(Friday) and last game, you could see that confidence and that will to come back.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet 360, CITY (Ottawa), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE SENATORS (11-14-8): Two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson is beginning to warm up with two goals and two assists in his last three games after managing two points in the previous 14 contests. Bobby Ryan, who was credited with his third goal in four games Thursday, is not expected to play Saturday due to a finger injury while defenseman Dion Phaneuf missed the game in Tampa Bay for the birth of his child and is questionable to face Florida. Zach Smith also suffered a shoulder injury Thursday and is expected to miss about two weeks.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (14-16-5): James Reimer has been on a good run since a rough outing against Colorado at home on Dec. 9, going 3-2-1 with a .936 save percentage over his last six games after turning aside 29 shots on Friday. Vincent Trocheck (35 points) scored a goal in the victory over Minnesota and has notched 12 points over his last 10 contests while Aleksander Barkov registered a pair of assists to tie for the team lead with 21. Veteran defenseman Keith Yandle snapped a five-game point drought with an assist to become the fifth Florida player to reach 20 points.
1. Florida LW Jamie McGinn (upper body), who is three points shy of 200 for his career, was a late scratch Friday and is day-to-day.
2. Ottawa RW Mark Stone has notched six assists during his five-game point streak and leads the team in scoring with 31 points.
3. Anderson missed practice on Friday due to illness and backup G Mike Condon is expected to start against Florida.
PREDICTION: Senators 4, Panthers 3