Panthers 4 Senators 2
By Darren Desaulniers
The Florida Panthers took care of their own business Sunday with a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in what was essentially a must win.
“It was a big game for us obviously. It’s a tight race and we want to stay in that race so we had to win, so we’re staying around,” head coach Gerrard Gallant said.
The Panthers kept their playoff hopes alive and moved to within a single point of the Senators, who occupy ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Boston Bruins, who will host the Panthers Tuesday and currently hold down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, remain four points up on the Panthers following a 2-1 over the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday.
“We can’t worry about that we can only worry about our game. We’re right there, we’ve got six games left and we want to stay in the race and obviously the next game in Boston is a huge game,” Gallant said.
Sunday was also huge for the Panthers as they played the fourth game in a five-game trip, their last road trip of the season.
Jaromir Jagr had a pair of goals, including the winner 14 minutes into the third period. After drawing Senators netminder Craig Anderson out of the net with a fake shot, Jagr scored his second goal of the game on a wraparound to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead.
“It’s our line’s job to score goals and luckily we did it. This was a Game 7 for us and now we have to get ready for the Next Game 7 against Boston,” said Jagr, who offered up a lot of praise for the young talent on the team.
“It said it before that nobody really gives these kids credit. They’re so talented and they’re going to surprise the league in two years and they might win the cup the way they play. You know they’re going to get better and better. They don’t even have to do anything and they’re going to get better,” Jagr said
Jussi Jokinen and Dave Bolland, into an empty net, also scored for the Panthers, who also got two assists from Bolland and Jonathan Huberdeau. They also got 25 saves from Dan Ellis.
“You don’t want to get too stressed out. We knew it was a big game but we just tried to have fun with it. Now it’s on to Boston and we have to try to get two points and not let them get one. It’s going to be crazy in Boston so we have to keep going,” Huberdeau said.
The Panthers came storming out of the gate and in the first 10 minutes held an 11-2 edge in shots although the game was scoreless through the first period.
“I thought we came out of the gate real good in the first 10 minutes and that was real important for our club. Dan made some great saves and I thought he was outstanding. He didn’t know he was going to play until about 12 o’clock today,” Gallant said.
Jagr opened the scoring at 7:36 of the second period when he cut to the front of the net and beat Anderson through the legs with a shot from the hash marks.
That goal came with Senators defenceman Eric Gryba in the penalty box for interference. Gryba was again in the box, this time for roughing, when Jokinen scored at 15:49 to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
Jokinen was in the slot when he took a pass from Dave Bolland and fired a shot past the glove hand of Anderson.
Panthers 4 Senators 2