|@ Senators (37-35-9)||1||1||1||3|
Like the last game, tonight’s game started with a quick goal. However, this time, it was not in favor of the Panthers. Mika Zibanejad got the puck past Luongo, but Magic Man Gerard Gallant challenged the goal for an offsides call and won, so the game remained scoreless within the first two minutes of play. After a little stint along the boards, Jiri Hudler and Chris Wideman were both called for unsportsmanlike conduct and there would be two full minutes of 4-on-4 play. The play was pretty even from then on out, with neither team getting many scoring opportunities. Then, with just over seven minutes left in the period, Rocco Grimaldi was sent to the sin bin on a hooking call and the Senators would get a chance to take the lead. Luckily, they were not able to do this. In fact, the Panthers got more shots on goal on the Ottawa power play than the Sens did. The Cats did pick up the pace a bit in the final minutes of the period, but this did not result in a goal. The Senators ended the frame on another power play when Aaron Ekblad was penalized for high sticking. Toward the end of the Ekblad penalty, Mika Zibanejad made up for the goal that was taken away from him by scoring and putting the Senators up by one. At the end of the period, the Senators led the Panthers 1-0 but both teams were tied in shots with 9. The Cats did not play poorly this period as compared to the Senators, but if not for the watchful eye of Gerard Gallant and the video coach, they would be down two goals. More shots on goal would be nice and are certainly important, but shots on goal are not all it takes to win a game. The defense will have to be better in the rest of the game as well.
Both teams had decent opportunities early on into the second, but Al Montoya was greatly challenged in this time period. He made one incredible save in which he had to reach around the net in order to keep the Senators’ lead to one goal. The Senators did start to pull ahead at one point and Buddy Robinson took advantage, scoring his first NHL goal. Once again, the Cats really didn’t look that bad, but they were also down two goals. The rest of the period was fairly uneventful. At the end of the period, the Senators were up 2-0 and they also led in shots on goal 19-14. The Panthers looked good in the beginning of this period, but they quickly fizzled out. There were no penalties this period, which only further proves that the Panthers cannot rely on a power play to score. The Panthers were playing like a team who had nothing to gain from winning this game, but further down the line, a win could determine home-ice advantage. This is still a winnable game for the Panthers, but they will really need to up their offense.
The Panthers needed to step up their game in the third and Jaromir Jagr had no hesitation in jumpstarting this notion. He scored a goal early on in the third to instill hope in the Cats. The goal was assisted by Aleksander Barkov and Alex Petrovic. A hit by Zack Smith left Steven Kampfer in obvious pain and heading to the dressing room. Smith was awarded a roughing penalty as a result and the Panthers got their first power play of the game. Jonathan Huberdeau nearly scored on the advantage but Craig Anderson was able to keep the puck out of his net. A comeback seemed to be on the horizon, but Cody Ceci may have prevented that. He made his way through multiple Panther defenders to get the puck past Montoya. With two minutes left in the period, Al Montoya headed to the bench to make way for the extra attacker. This rarely works for the Panthers, though, and tonight was no exception. The Panthers ended up losing this game 3-1.
Jaromir Jagr looks to be trying to take the lead in goals from his linemate Aleksander Barkov. He scored the Panthers’ first goal of the game and his 27th goal of the season early in the third. Jonathan Huberdeau played very well tonight and although he did not score, he was able to get the puck on net more than just about any other player on the Panthers.
The Panthers will compete in their final game of the regular season at home on Saturday, April 9th, at 7:00 pm ET against the Carolina Hurricanes. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.