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3 posts from December 3, 2013

December 03, 2013

SENS AGAIN: Panthers Squander 2-0 Lead, Lose 4-2 to Ottawa

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Panthers got the start they were hoping for Tuesday night although their two early power play goals didn't hold up for long.

Ottawa, which has struggled almost as badly as Florida this year, scored four unanswered goals to beat the Panthers 4-2 in front of a friends-and-family gathering at BB&T Center.

Florida has lost three straight and five of the past six.

"This is frustrating. It's not fun,'' said defenseman Brian Campbell, whose team led 2-0 less than nine minutes into the game.

"I feel like we're close but we keep making major mistakes that cost us. They don't seem to leave our game.''

Florida's power play got things going early with Jonathan Huberdeau scoring the opening goal on a 5-on-3 chance by following up Tomas Fleischmann rebound. Fleischmann's assist marked his first point in 10 games.

Campbell made it 2-0 on the extended power play chance by roofing a shot past former Florida goalie Craig Anderson.

Ottawa, which took 21 shots in the opening period, closed the first with goals from Joe Corvo and Erik Condra. Corvo's goal was a 55-foot wrister from just inside the blue line, the puck zipping over Tim Thomas' right shoulder.

Ottawa spent much of the second on the power play, cashing in late in the period when another long shot from Corvo hit teammate Colin Greening and bounced over Thomas' head.

Greening's goal served as the game-winner as Bobby Ryan tacked on the fourth goal with 8:08 left to put the Panthers away.

"We had a great start then got into penalty trouble,'' said Scottie Upshall, who was flagged for three of Florida's eight infractions. "I thought our penalty kill did a great job but you can't build momentum when you are killing and not creating offense. My two penalties in the offensive zone were unacceptable. I can't be doing that.''

-- Tuesday's announced attendance of 10,074 was the lowest in six seasons. The Panthers announced a crowd of 10,063 on Halloween night in 2008 against the Hurricanes.

-- Florida is 0-2 against the Sens this year and just 3-13-1 against Ottawa since the start of the 2009-10 season.


ATLANTIC ROUGH ON PANTHERS: Florida Searches for First Division Win v. Sens on Tuesday

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Panthers enter the heart of their divisional schedule this month with nine of the next 13 games coming within the Atlantic Division starting with Tuesday's home game against the Senators.

Florida, to be kind, has struggled in its new division as the Panthers are the only team in the NHL to not win a divisional game this season.

The Panthers go into Tuesday's game with a 0-5-1 record in the Atlantic.

"I don't spend a lot of time looking at those things because it becomes frustrating,'' coach Peter Horachek said after Monday's morning practice. "You can't look at it as a daunting task.''

Although the Panthers have played 27 games this season, only six have come against fellow teams in the new division.

Florida and Tampa Bay were taken from the old Southeast Division and put into the Atlantic this season.

The Panthers were members of the Atlantic Division from their expansion season through 1997-98. The Panthers began the 1998-99 season in the Southeast Division and stayed there until this year.

Florida's previous Atlantic Division win came on April 9, 1998. The Panthers' 3-2 win over the Flyers was their final victory at Miami Arena.

"How we play in the division will help determine where we're going to be,'' Tomas Fleischmann said. "This is going to be an important stretch for us. We have to really push it. It's been strange because we haven't played too many divisional team. But we need points and it doesn't matter who it comes against.''

-- Jesse Winchester spent four seasons playing for his hometown Ottawa Senators and had dozens of fans and family members at Florida's game at Ottawa on Nov. 9.

Winchester didn't play in that game, however, as he was starting a three-game suspension.

On Tuesday, Winchester will get a chance to go against his former team for the first time.

"I spent a lot of good years with them and know them pretty well,'' said Winchester, whose four goals this season are the most he's scored since tallying four for the Sens in 2010-11.

"I'm excited to get on the ice and compete against them. I wanted to play before, but my plans fell through.''

-- Tomas Kopecky went through an entire practice Monday for the first time since injuring his elbow Nov. 21 at Edmonton. Kopecky also participated in Tuesday's morning skate but will not play.


When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560

The series: Ottawa leads 45-28-3

The game: Ottawa, which has lost two straight, won the first meeting 3-2 on Nov. 9 in Peter Horachek's first game behind the Panthers bench. Ottawa has won the season series against Florida in each of the past four seasons and in six of the past seven.


KULIKOV BENCHED: Panthers Sit Struggling Defenseman V Sens

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Struggling defenseman Dmitry Kulikov will find himself on the sidelines Tuesday as he will be a healthy scratch against the Senators.

Kulikov has been his own worst enemy of late. On Monday, coach Peter Horachek called Kulikov one of Florida's most talented defensive players - but one who needed to get out of this slump.

On Tuesday, Kulikov spent extra time after the morning skate with fellow scratch Scott Gomez and injured captain Ed Jovanovski.

"I'm disappointed, that's the only way to describe it,'' said Kulikov, the 14th overall pick of the 2009 draft who made his NHL debut a few months later.

"I'm going to work hard to get back into the lineup. I think most of this is mental. The mistakes I've made weren't forced; I shouldn't have made them. What happened, happened. I have to work hard to get it out of me and not worry about it.''

Horachek said taking a step back on Tuesday isn't a bad thing for Kulikov.

"I think that's a good thing for a lot of players. They have to go through this process,'' Horachek said. "They have to be accountable to their teammates. We've decided it's best for him to just sit back, to see it and come back with a whole new approach to the game.

"No one wants to be in this situation but sometimes it's necessary.''

Horachek said he would speak with Kulikov -- "they all get spoken to in that situation" -- although Kulikov said he that hasn't happened yet.

"He's out there, he knows the situation he's in,'' Horachek said. "How he approaches it is up to him. If he says 'OK. I'm going to work hard and pay attention so this doesn't happen anymore.' He could also take a victim's attitude and that's something a player can't do. Most players take the right approach. The attitude is key when it comes to adversity.

"And this is adversity.''

When asked if he was surprised to be benched, Kulikov said "a little bit. I didn't think I was playing bad enough to be kicked out of the lineup but that's the coach's decision.''

-- Horachek also said that Tomas Kopecky and Matt Gilroy were getting closer to being in the lineup but they wouldn't play Tuesday against the Sens.

-- Tim Thomas is back between the pipes. This is Thomas' 12th straight start for the Panthers.