OTTAWA – With just nine games left in the regular season, the Panthers began their last road trip of the year in Canada’s capital as they took on the Ottawa Senators.
With both Atlantic Division teams chasing a playoff spot, and being separated by just four points entering Monday night, it seemed like this would be a must win game for both teams as the season quickly dwindles down.
At one point tonight it was a one goal contest however, a late power play goal from Ottawa put the dagger in Florida, as the Sens defeated Florida 5-2.
Florida has lost four straight games and are quickly slipping out of the chase for a Wild Card spot.
Here’s tonight’s takeaways:
Playing catch-up from the jump
For the fourth straight game the Panthers trailed by multiple goals. This time, they were down 2-0 after the first period.
Ottawa didn’t have a plethora of chances in the first with just eight shots on goal. Despite that, they were able to capitalize on their chances.
The Sens very well could have been up by another goal or two if it wasn’t for Sergei Bobrovsky bailing out the Panthers on odd-man rushes in the first frame.
Looking at the standings, tonight was probably a must-win game for the Senators, and they played like it all game, but most evidently in the opening 20 minutes.
The one-timer’s beat Bob
The Panthers’ goalie has had to play a lot of minutes this season and he’s kept his team in many of those games.
Tonight he made some miraculous saves when his team was trailing by multiple goals.
Yet, the kryptonite for Bob against the Sens was their shots from one-timers.
Ottawa scored three of their four non-empty net goals off of one-timers, albeit two of those came with the man-advantage. The Sens used the open space to tee up their top scorers and they didn’t pass up the opportunity.
Brady Tkachuk, DeBrincat and Stutzle’s goals were all one-timer slapshots.
Ottawa’s power play went to work
Ottawa looked their best tonight when they were on the man-advantage.
They were able to make use of the extra man, working the puck from the top down low. Their second goal of the game came off of a broken play which saw Eric Staal’s stick break and Gustav Forsling take a puck to the face before Erik Brannstrom found the back of the net to make it 2-0.
Florida looked to be the dominant team in the second period, holding a 1-0 score advantage in that frame, up until Ottawa went back to the power play with under three minutes left in the period.
Once again, Ottawa worked the puck around the zone until they found an open man and Alex DeBrincat didn’t waste his chance, blasting a one-timer past Sergei Bobrovsky to make the game 3-1.
The final blow to Florida came in the final minutes when Anton Lundell received a penalty for playing the puck with his glove on the faceoff.
Ottawa’s red-hot power play went back to work one last time and they iced the game with Tim Stuzle’s 36th goal of the season.
The Sens scored on three of their four power plays tonight. Only one of their five goals came at 5-on-5.
The Battle of the Tkachuks
It’s always a spectacle when the Tkachuk brothers take the ice against each other, even more so now that they are in the same division.
Matthew took the upper hand in October when the two sides matched up in Sunrise, besting Brady’s goal with a three-point performance in a 5-3 Panthers victory.
As the Tkachuk bowl entered round two in Brady’s neck of the woods, the Senators captain wasted no time letting his big brother know who runs this town.
9:02 into the first period, off of a beautiful feed from Thomas Chabot, Brady fired a one-timer past Bobrovsky to give the Senators a 1-0 lead.
Throughout the night, the Ottawa faithful directed their “Brady’s better” chants towards the older Tkachuk brother.
Brady got the final laugh tonight with his two point performance and the win. Matthew finished the game with nothing on the scoreboard.
Gustav Forsling’s goal scoring performance kept Florida alive
An unlikely offensive lifeline for the Panthers tonight was defenseman Gustav Forsling.
Twice in the game Florida found themselves trailing by two goals and both times the player who answered the call was the Swedish defenseman. His pair of goals looked nearly identical; both being slap shots from the point.
After getting on the board twice Forsling was jumping up in the play to try and create something offensively with the game being 3-2.
Unfortunately for the team, it was only Forsling who found the back of the net in Ottawa. He sits at 12 goals on the year, a new career-high.