Panthers outlast Senators in wild, high-scoring 6-5 affair

Image courtesy of @turbuL3NT2 / COTP Photography

Goals have been hard to come by for the Panthers for most of this season, but that wasn’t the case on Tuesday night. 

After a 4-day break for the 2017 All-Star Game, the Panthers returned to home ice to face the division-rival Ottawa Senators, and both teams put their rust on display. En route to their highest goal total in a game all season long, the Panthers scored twice in each period, including an empty-netter by Jason Demers in the 3rd, to seal a 6-5 win, earning points for the 4th time in the last 5 games and wins in 2 straight.

The Senators were 4-0-2 in their last 6 games before losing to the Panthers, including a 3-0 win over the Capitals and a 7-6 win against the Blue Jackets.

Mike Matheson opened the scoring with his 4th goal of the season 2:24 into the 1st period after he rushed up the ice and threw the puck on net, causing it to rebound just past the right pad of goaltender Mike Condon.

Matheson recorded his first multi-goal game of his NHL career when his shot from the point 9:53 into the 3rd tied the game at 4.

“I just try to help any way I can,” said Matheson. “I think the past few games I’ve been struggling a little bit to bury the chances that I’ve been getting, so it was nice to have them go in.”

With less than 7 minutes remaining in the 3rd, Jonathan Marchessault netted his 15th goal of the season to give the Panthers a 5-4 lead off a misplay behind the Senators net by Condon.

Colton Sceviour scored in the 2nd period, breaking a 39-game goalless drought, and Mark Pysyk scored in the 1st as part of 4 total goals in 6 minutes and 30 seconds.

“We don’t want to get into games like that,” said Pysyk of the back and forth game. “It’s good that we got the win to prove that we can be in games like that if we get there, but that’s obviously not what we want to do.”

“It’s been a long time,” said Sceviour of his last goal before tonight. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know how long it’d been. I’ve been pressing a bit, so it was nice to get that one.”

Roberto Luongo allowed 5 goals on 41 shots, including one with the Senators net empty, in place of James Reimer who was expected to start until his wife gave birth on Tuesday afternoon to daughter Nevaeh Adelyn May. Luongo finished the game with career win number 450 and his first after going 0-3-1 in 4 starts entering the night.

Vincent Trocheck, in his first game since notching 1 goal and 3 assists in Sunday’s All-Star Game, went without a point in the winning effort at the BB&T Center, but Mike Sgarbossa added 2 assists and played a key role in Marchessault’s eventual game-winner. Nick Bjugstad tallied an assist while playing on the top line with Jared McCann and Jaromir Jagr, an attempt by head coach Tom Rowe to kickstart the young forward’s offensive production.

In the final game before a week-long break, the Panthers will take on the Anaheim Ducks for the first of 2 times this season on Friday at home.

Post-game notes: The Panthers are now 15-0-5 in games where they score at least 3 goals in regulation. This was the first game in which they scored more than 5 goals this season. … F Paul Thompson and D Dylan McIlrath were placed on waivers on Tuesday by the Panthers with the intention of assigning them to the Springfield Thunderbirds of the AHL if they aren’t claimed by 12PM Wednesday. Thompson played in 21 games with the Panthers, recording 3 assists, 22 penalty minutes, and a -4 rating. McIlrath played in just 5 games with the team since being acquired in November for Steven Kampfer. He recorded 1 goal and took part in a 2-week long conditioning assignment in the AHL earlier this month. … In honor of the the late Marti Huizenga, the Panthers donated $25,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Broward Country at Tuesday’s game. … G Sam Brittain was recalled early in the day to back up in place of James Reimer, but Reimer returned to the team in time for the game and Brittain was eventually sent back to ECHL Manchester. … The Panthers went 4/4 on the penalty kill, but 0/3 on the power play. … The Panthers have now gotten a total of 28 goals from their defensemen this season through 51 games compared to 27 all of last season.
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