Panthers need win as lowly Senators come to town
The Florida Panthers are playing plenty of overtimes games, and going beyond 60 minutes is costing the Atlantic Division club a chance at making the playoffs.
The team played its fourth consecutive overtime game this week -- the first in Colorado on Monday, at Arizona the following night, on to Las Vegas on Thursday and then back home Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Out of a possible eight points, the Panthers gained just five. Florida won the only overtime game it trailed in during the final period (in Denver) and dropped the next three despite holding third-period leads in all of them.
That frustration is starting to wear thin on the Panthers, who have points in eight of the last nine games but see a difficult season slipping away.
Florida hosts the Ottawa Senators in Sunrise, Fla., at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday as both teams complete a back-to-back set. The Panthers are 10 points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the second wild-card spot.
The Panthers received a fairly strong NHL debut from Sam Montembeault, 22, on Saturday against Carolina, but the Quebec native couldn't stop All-Star Sebastian Aho from scoring the game-winner early in overtime as the Hurricanes won for the 13th time in their last 16 games.
Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek stopped Vincent Trocheck, Michael Matheson and Jonathan Huberdeau on breakaways as the Panthers kept possession for most of overtime, but Aho finished a 2-on-1 pass from Nino Niederreiter to deprive Florida of the extra point.
"Up 3-2 with eight minutes to go (and losing) is a little tough to swallow," said Florida coach Bob Boughner. "We had many chances to win the game. ... In the overtime we had three breakaways to guys that you'd want to have the puck on the breakaway.
"Give him credit, he made the stops ... but lots of chances."
Fourth-line center Henrik Borgstrom had a career-high three points (two goals, assist), and linemates Dryden Hunt and Jamie McGinn each had two helpers. Defenseman Mark Pysyk added a goal and an assist.
The Senators played their first game with interim coach Marc Crawford, who replaced coach Guy Boucher after he was fired Friday morning.
Ottawa dropped a 5-1 decision in Tampa on Saturday to the Lightning, the team Boucher coached to the Eastern Conference Final in the 2010-11 season.
The loss was the seventh straight and ninth in the last 10 games for the Senators, who are a vestige of themselves after losing standouts Mike Hoffman, Erik Karlsson, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Mark Stone in the last nine months and axing their coach with 18 games left in a dismal season.
Anthony Duclair scored his second goal after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the trade for Dzingel, but goalie Craig Anderson couldn't prevent five Lightning players from scoring.
"I certainly didn't like the number of puck battles that we lost," Crawford said after the loss. "The NHL is a league where, if you win puck battles, usually you win the game. And they were so far ahead of us in terms of their ability to win puck battles.
"It's something that I don't think is all about skill. It's about commitment. We certainly have a ways to go to be committed to those things."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 3, 2019