Panthers, unstoppable on road, head home to face Senators

By Thomson Reuters Feb 19, 2024 | 11:28 PM

The Florida Panthers, who have surged to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and are tied for the third-most points in the NHL, will face the lowly Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night in Sunrise, Fla.

Florida has won nine of its past 10 games, and only two of those victories were by one goal. The Panthers’ defense held the opposition to two or fewer goals in all 10 games.

Ottawa is 8-3-2 over its past 12 games, but even that run hasn’t been enough for the Senators to escape last place in the Atlantic Division.

The Panthers also have won a franchise-record 11 straight road games. The NHL regular-season record for consecutive road wins is 12 games, held by the 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings and 2014-15 Minnesota Wild.

“Everyone is having fun out there,” Florida center Aleksander Barkov said of his teammates. “We’re playing hard no matter the score.”

The Panthers certainly were having fun on Saturday night, when they pulled off a stunning 9-2 road win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now they face the Senators, a team they routed 5-0 on Nov. 27 in the first of four scheduled games between the teams this season.

Panthers center Sam Reinhart scored twice in the matchup at Ottawa. He ranks second in the NHL with a career-high 39 goals and tops the Panthers with 66 points.

He also leads the league with 22 power-play goals and is tied for first with nine game-winning goals.

Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (27-10-2) ranks first in the Eastern Conference in wins. His 2.41 goals-against average rates third in the league.

Meanwhile, the Senators have the second-fewest points in the East and appear likely to miss the playoffs for the seventh straight season. Ottawa’s leading goal-scorer with 25 is Brady Tkachuk, the younger brother of Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk.

In the teams’ first meeting this season, each side was called for 15 penalties. The Panthers went 3-for-7 on their power play, but Ottawa went 0-for-6.

Brady Tkachuk was called for four penalties, including a game misconduct in the third period, limiting him to just 16:45 in ice time. Still, he had a game-high-tying seven shots on goal.

“I don’t think it’s bad to play with emotion,” Brady Tkachuk said. “When our team plays with emotion, we’re tough to beat. It shows we care about winning. We care about our teammates.”

Tim Stutzle leads the Senators in assists (38) and points (51). However, Stutzle, a 22-year-old who was the NHL’s third overall pick in 2020, is off his pace of last season, when he had 39 goals and 90 points.

On the plus side for Stutzle, he logged a goal and an assist as the Senators ended a two-game losing streak with a 4-2 road victory over the Lightning on Monday. Mathieu Joseph led Ottawa with two goals against his former team.

“I thought we had a good effort,” Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said, according to NHL.com. “I thought we played well, played smart. They’ve got some high-powered forwards, and I thought we did a pretty good job neutralizing them and staying out of the box as well.”

–Field Level Media