|@ Panthers (13-11-4)||1||1||0||2|
Although neither team really came out on top in the first five minutes of play, the Panthers did look fairly strong and were able to maintain decent puck possession. Before the Senators even had a chance to get a shot on goal, the Panthers were on the board. Logan Shaw scored his first NHL goal on a top shelf clapper. The goal was assisted by Derek MacKenzie and Jussi Jokinen. The Sens came back full force after the goal, but some great saves (and a little luck) from Luongo kept the Panthers in the lead. With 7:53 in the period, the Panthers got their first power play opportunity of the game after Chiasson was called for holding. The Senators were able to kill the penalty but they were not able to kill the Panthers’ momentum. This momentum continued throughout the period, even though Brandon Pirri was called for slashing in the last minute of the frame. At the end of the period, the Panthers led the Senators 1-0 and also edged them out in shots on goal 9-6. The Panthers did not necessarily have a great period, but what matters is that it was better than that of the Senators. The Panthers will, however, need to perform at a higher level in the upcoming periods to secure their lead and eventual win.
Brandon Pirri’s penalty ended up being more detrimental than expected. In the first minute of the second period, Zack Smith was able to score to tie the game on the power play. This goal shook the Cats, who could not gain possession of the puck in the first five minutes of the period. Even when they could get the puck, they were not able to make anything meaningful out of their chances. With 9 minutes gone, the Panthers had the opportunity to change this. Jared Cowen was sent to the sin bin for cross checking but the Panthers were not able to get the break they needed on the advantage. The Senators went back to dominating but this didn’t last long as Reilly Smith scored on a breakaway. The goal was assisted by Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Pirri. Now the Panthers were buzzing. With 5 minutes left in the period, the Panthers got another power play opportunity when Zack Smith was called for kneeing (yes, kneeing). This power play was extremely short-lived though, as Vincent Trocheck was penalized for hooking almost immediately after. Both penalties were killed and the Panthers remained in the lead 2-1 at the end of the period. They also kept the lead in shots on goal 19-14. The Panthers played similarly in the beginning of this period to how they did in the last, except this time, they were up against tougher competition. The Senators came out to play in the second and the Cats were initially unable to compete. Thankfully, the Panthers got their act together in the second half of the period and were able to stay in the lead.
The final period started off like any normal Panthers period would: with a penalty, Aleksander Barkov was sent off for hooking and Kyle Turris swiftly scored to tie the game once more. Unlike the last Senators goal, this one did not shake the Panthers. It also did not prevent the Panthers from being perpetually on the penalty kill. The victim this time was Erik Gudbranson for boarding. The penalty was killed and the Panthers went on as usual. The Sens were playing well too and certainly didn’t make a comeback easy for the Panthers. The same clearly didn’t apply for the Senators, who made quite the comeback indeed. With 5:37 left in the period, Mike Hoffman scored to give the Senators the lead. With all the inconsistencies this game has offered, that goal could have been seen coming from a mile away. The Panthers got a power play opportunity late in the period on a Cody Ceci tripping call but were unable to score, leaving them with very little time to tie up the game. To add insult to injury, Pageau scored on the empty net to widen the Ottawa lead. Jussi Jokinen finished off the game in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct as well. This was enough to secure the Senators a 4-2 win. The Panthers played a mediocre game through and through but against a team like the Senators, a mediocre game is not good enough. After winning five games in a row, the Panthers have lost their last two.
Logan Shaw’s first NHL goal was an absolute beauty and the COTP staff expects many more like that from him in the future. Reilly Smith, a player who constantly puts in hard work, was also able to score tonight.
The Panthers will be at home on Thursday, December 10th, taking on the Washington Capitals at 7:30 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.