Listless Panthers Fall In Ottawa
After an almost flawless opening night performance against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers followed it up with the exact opposite in falling to the Ottawa Senators 4-0 in Canada’s capital Monday night. Former Panther Craig Anderson continued his mastery against his former club (8-0-1), making 31 saves in what has to the easiest shutout of his NHL career.
Jose Theodore gets the loss but the reality of this game was that it could’ve been a blowout early were it not for his strong play in net instead of a close hockey game deep into the third period. The Panther defense corps, normally a strength, had one of its uglier games in recent memory. Keaton Ellerby’s delay of game penalty led to the first Senators goal when Kyle Turris did his best Steven Stamkos impression when he beautifully one-timed a cross ice pass from the left face off circle just past the halfway mark of the first period.
Turris would capitalize on another Florida defensive miscue when he blew past Ed Jovanovski and finished another perfect pass, this time from Guillaume Latendresse for a 2-0 lead midway through the second. The Cats finally found some semblance of an offense late in the period but couldn’t get one past Anderson.
Theodore would do everything he could do but two Dmitry Kulikov giveaways helped turn a 2-0 deficit into a 4-0 deficit over the game’s final three minutes. If Kulikov not being ready for the season opener put in coach Kevin Dineen’s doghouse then he might be buried under it after this game. He was careless with his passes and easily knocked off the puck for much of the night. It will be curious to see if he’s in the lineup Tuesday night in Montreal or how much ice time he receives if he is. It’s hard to single one guy out after a game like this but this might have been the worst game of his young career.
No offense to either of these guys but, when Jack Skille and Shawn Matthias were your best forwards, you probably had a bad game and that’s what happened here. To their credit, they played hard every shift and helped produce some of the best scoring chances on the evening. But, if this team is going to win enough to make the playoffs, one or both of the top two lines need to have a solid evening just about every night. On Monday, they combined for only seven shots between the six of them. When your best players are that uninvolved, you get results like this, especially against a skilled team like the Senators.
It’s still worth noting that the Cats are still nowhere close to be 100% healthy, with four regulars sitting out this one out. And for whatever reason, this Ottawa team seems to give Florida fits, going 3-1 against them last season. And while this was a bad loss, you can expect clunkers like this from EVERY team this season, especially early on for no real rhyme or reason. Dineen and staff will have a short window to analyze all that went wrong as the Panthers off to Montreal to play the Habs in their first of six back-to-backs of this season. And that’s the beauty of a condensed season like this, you don’t have to wait too long to find a bit of redemption.
Thanks for reading! Any and all comments are welcomed and appreciated!
Follow All Panther Parkway writers on Twitter: Me @davidlasseter, Frank Rekas @TheRatTrick, Josh Luecht @JoshLuecht, Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, David Rodriguez @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis @RatTrickLewiz, Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Adam Reid @AdamReid, Chrissy Parente @chrissaay44, Justen Rosenberg @justenrosenberg, Kris Eberwein @RatTrickKris, and Lori Carpenter @LMCangel13. Visit our Facebook fan page here and give us a like and share anything you wish with us.