KANATA, Ont. -- The last time the Panthers visited Ottawa, it was freezing cold, David Booth was out with a concussion and the host Senators were an absolute mess.
Some things definitely have changed.
It's still cold, Booth will miss the rest of the season after suffering another concussion but the Senators have righted their ship.
Saturday night, Ottawa got two goals in the final five minutes of the second period and continued to strengthen its playoff position by beating the Panthers 3-2 at Scotiabank Place.
“We didn't do enough to win, man one through 20,'' said coach Pete DeBoer, whose team has lost two straight and are nine points out of the playoffs with eight games left.
“They capitalized on some plays where we had some forwards standing around watching. They have a dangerous team and can do that. We need a big performance from someone. The last game we won, Booth got two goals.''
On Jan. 9, the Panthers' 3-0 win was Ottawa's third straight loss. After two more defeats, the Sens went on a 11-game winning streak and have never really looked back. The win helped Ottawa keep its lead over Montreal for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and stay within six of Pittsburgh for fourth (and home ice in the opening round).
Florida broke the ice in the second when Stephen Weiss worked his way around the left side and scored on a backhanded shot. On the play, Weiss charged into traffic, with Andy Sutton looking to put a shoulder on the Florida center. Instead, Sutton clipped Weiss but took out teammate Anton Volchenkov in the collision.
Volchenkov left the game after being attended to by medical staff and did not return.
“I think I got away with one there. I was in an awkward spot,'' said Weiss. “Knock wood, that was lucky. I still haven't seen the goal. I was going on net, thought I was going to get killed and shot the puck trying to get out of the way. It looked like we were going to clip knees and I still was in a weird spot.''
Ottawa added a pair of goals late in the second, with Matt Cullen tying it with 4:58 remaining after whacking at a loose puck. With 2:20 remaining, Jason Spezza drove in but lost the puck as it hit a broken stick on the ice. Peter Regin was trailing and picked up Spezza's shot, his slap shot zipping past Vokoun to make it 2-1.
The Senators made it 3-1 early in the third on a power play goal but Florida had plenty of chances to come back thanks to an Ottawa penalty parade. With 6:46 left, the Panthers converted a 5-on-3 power play when Steven Reinprecht knocked a Cory Stillman pass into an empty net.
But Florida had no such success later when it had a 5-on-3 for 1:20 and failed to beat Brian Elliott for the game tying goal.
-- General manager Randy Sexton confirmed Saturday that Booth would not play again this season after suffering his second concussion since Oct. 24. Booth was injured again Thursday in Montreal and returned to South Florida on Friday.
Sexton said after talking to doctors, it was decided Booth wouldn't return.
Winger Gregory Campbell skated Saturday for the first time since breaking a bone in his foot in a game against Buffalo four games ago. Campbell was able to put on a skate and said the swelling and pain wasn't as bad as he had expected.
“Obviously it's a little sore being a week out, but for what the injury is and the normal time frame is, I feel happy about how it feels,'' said Campbell, who went 25 minutes on Saturday. “According to what [trainer Dave] Zenobi told me, it's an injury that won't swell too much. It's more about pushing off, turning on it. That's what causes the problems.''
DeBoer said Campbell may be able to play Monday against Nashville, but Campbell said Wednesday's game in Buffalo may be more realistic. Campbell is a restricted free agent after this season and says he wants to get to back as soon as possible.
“I'm taking it day by day, but Wednesday is a best case scenario,'' Campbell said. “I hate sitting out. It's been a tough year, missing the games I have missed. I don't like it. .-.-. I think it's worth it for me to come back and play and not sit out.''
-- Olesz left the game in the first period after being hit and suffering a cut above his left eye. After getting stitched up, Olesz returned.
-- Florida lost its second straight game against teams who played the night before in Buffalo. Thursday's 4-1 loss to Montreal came a day after the Canadiens lost to the Sabres; Friday, the Sens won 4-2 at HSBC Arena before coming home to beat the Panthers.