Florida Panthers (26-19-12) at Ottawa Senators (23-23-10)
|Date & Time||Saturday February 21, 2015, 7:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Ottawa Senators +109 / Florida Panthers -120 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
Don’t look now but the Florida Panthers are just one point behind the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. While the Bruins continue their free fall, the Panthers have righted their ship a bit with two consecutive wins. After a 3-2 road win in Toronto against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night the Panthers were back at it in Canada as they traveled to Montreal. With the game scoreless in the second period the Panthers watched Brendan Gallagher score twice to give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead that is usually insurmountable for most teams to overcome against the best defensive club in the league. But the pesky Panthers battled back, getting a goal from Tomas Fleischmann in the second period and the first of the year from defenseman Steven Kampfer in the third to tie the game and send it into overtime. After a scoreless extra session it was Nick Bjugstad who kept Florida’s chances alive with a goal in the third round of the shootout with the Panthers trailing by one. Roberto Luongo then stopped the next three shooters he faced and Dave Bolland finally scored to ice the win for the Panthers. Now Florida will look to wrap up their swing in Canada with another win over the Ottawa Senators before finishing off this five game road trip with games in Pittsburgh and Chicago. A win on Saturday would be huge because it would guarantee a winning road trip before heading home for a lengthy home stand.
For the Ottawa Senators the rest of this season is just about trying to figure out which pieces are ones they want to commit to long term and which ones are they going to try and move out of town. The coaching change that was made early in the season hasn’t produced the desired results and this club that has some talent on it just hasn’t been able to put a string of success together at any point this year. After three straight losses to start the month of February the Senators have alternated wins and losses over the last five contests. Wednesday night the Senators needed a huge goaltending performance from rookie Andrew Hammond in his first National Hockey League start. Milan Michalek’s 11th goal of the season gave the Senators a 1-0 lead in the second period before watching Montreal tie things up just eight seconds later. Jean-Gabriel Pageau chipped in with his third of the season in the final two minutes of the frame to make it a 2-1 Ottawa lead heading into the third. Mark Stone would score the game winner on the power play and Kyle Turris added an empty net goal to help Hammond’s 42 saves stand up.
This is going to be a tough one for the Panthers despite Ottawa’s struggles this season. Florida really needs to find a way to win this however because as we mentioned this trip finishes up with two extremely difficult games in Pittsburgh and Chicago. The Panthers need to play with some desperation in this one and if they do that they should find a way to come out on top.