|@ Senators (19-16-6)||0||1||1||0|
It was clear from the start that this would be an evenly matched game. Both the Senators and the Panthers had the puck in their offensive zones but each team’s defense prevented a shot on goal in the first three minutes. However, after that, the Senators were able to get the puck on net but the Panthers were not able to even get a shot on goal in the first twelve minutes of the game. They had some decent opportunities, from the Huberdeau-Barkov-Jagr line specifically, but each shot was blocked. In the Panthers’ defense, the Senators were not able to get many shots on net as well. It was still a bit troubling that the Panthers were so behind on their offense.
Their first shot on goal, with 7:55 left in the period, was a goal. Reilly Smith scored the goal and Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad assisted it. Their second shot on goal was, again, a goal. Just eight seconds after the Smith goal, Vincent Trocheck was able to get the puck past Anderson. The only word that can be used to describe that series of events is insane. With the blink of an eye, the Panthers were up 2-0. The Panthers’ third shot on goal was not a goal but now, they had a decent lead to start with. The Senators tried to make a comeback late in the period but were unable to do so. With 43 seconds in the period, Aaron Ekblad was called for hooking in a penalty that would carry over to the second frame. This same 2-0 lead was kept until the end of the period, even though the Senators had the edge in shots on goal 7-4. It seems that when a team scores two goals on their first two shots, they can afford to trail in overall shots on goal. If the Panthers want to maintain this lead, they will not be able to depend as much on luck, though. The rough start from Craig Anderson will undoubtedly be amended in the final two periods and the Panthers need to be able to adjust their game to reflect that.
Eight seconds into the second period and the Panthers would be going on a 5-on-3. Willie Mitchell was penalized for delay of game and the Panthers would have a tough few minutes ahead of them. Roberto Luongo saved some near-goals and with his skill, the Panthers were able to kill both penalties. The Senators kept on buzzing, though, and Max McCormick was able to score his first NHL goal about five minutes into the period. The Panthers started to pick up their play but Ottawa fought back just as hard.At the halfway point of the period, the Sens had double the amount of shots on goal that the Panthers had. Erik Karlsson slashed Dmitry Kulikov on a Panthers 2-on-1 and the Cats got their first power play of the game. The Panthers, who have not been good on the power play during this streak, continued that prophecy and were unable to score.
In fact, they weren’t even able to keep the power play because Brandon Pirri was penalized for slashing halfway through it. Both of these penalties were killed. Kyle Turris has had multiple great shots throughout the game and especially in the second period, but Luongo was able to stop all of them. At the end of the period, the Panthers led 2-1 but still trailed in shots on goal 20-10. The Panthers did not step it up this period and they faced the consequences. Without those lucky two goals, the Panthers would certainly be trailing right now. Their offense has been subpar and it showed this period. Hopefully, they will be able to pull something together in the final frame in order to score that magical third goal and win the game.
Once again, the Senators came out strong in the beginning of the period. This was further escalated when birthday boy Erik Gudbranson was sent to the sin bin on a high sticking call. Roberto Luongo and Reilly Smith killed the penalty and play continued. A Senators comeback seemed imminent until the Huberdeau-Barkov-Jagr line did their thing. Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr brought the puck into the offensive zone and allowed Aleksander Barkov to score. There it was: the ever-coveted third goal. Yet, this game would not end easily if the Senators had anything to do with it. At the halfway point in the third period, Milan Michalek scored to tighten the Panthers’ lead to one. The Panthers got another power play opportunity late in the game when Marc Methot was called for interference on Vincent Trocheck. This opportunity was not able to be capitalized on and the Senators kept pushing on to tie the game up.
With 2:19 left, Craig Anderson headed to the bench to make way for an extra Ottawa attacker. They didn’t get to keep their extra attacker for too long, though, because Milan Michalek hooked Jonathan Huberdeau. To add insult to injury, the Senators had seven players on the ice and were called for too many men. They ended the game on the 5-on-3. The last two minutes of the game were certainly nerve-wracking but thankfully, they swayed in the Panthers’ favor and allowed the team to win. The first two goals came easy for the Panthers but they worked hard for that third goal and that goal alone made the Panthers deserve this win and more specifically, this eleventh straight win.
Roberto Luongo was instrumental in killing a 5-on-3 that was crucial in the success of the Panthers tonight. He was also able to stop every shot but two to sustain his stellar save percentage. Nick Bjugstad has seemed to ease his way back into the game and had a lot more ice time tonight than he did in his past two games. He truly put in the effort tonight and the fact that he was not awarded with a goal is bewildering. Reilly Smith and Vincent Trocheck both played well tonight as per usual and were each awarded with goals, eight seconds apart from each other. The Huberdeau-Barkov-Jagr was incredible tonight, also unsurprisingly. Jonathan Huberdeau assisted both the Smith goal and the Barkov goal, which was indeed a beauty.
The Panthers will continue their road trip on Sunday, January 10th against the Edmonton Oilers at 9:30 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.