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Senators-Panthers Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

Associated Press

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Senators-Panthers Preview
Ottawa Senators vs. Florida Panthers

Considering their recent struggles, the Ottawa Senators should welcome a trip to Florida.

The Eastern Conference leaders hope to avoid a third straight loss Tuesday as they try to continue their recent domination of the Panthers.

No team in the East has cracked the 60-point mark other than the Senators (30-14-4), but they have lost two straight and four of five while dealing with injuries to leading scorers Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley. Alfredsson (29 goals, 60 points) could return Tuesday after missing two games with an injured hip, but Heatley (25 goals, 56 points) is out indefinitely with a shoulder problem.

"Two big key guys out of the lineup," Senators center Chris Kelly said. "When that happens, it gives other guys an opportunity to play more and contribute more. For those guys, they haven't done that so far."

Nine points by Heatley and seven by Alfredsson have helped Ottawa win six straight against the Panthers (21-24-4), including two this season. The Senators have scored at least four goals in each of those six games, outscoring Florida by a 29-11 margin.

Ottawa is 11-1-1 in the last 13 meetings, and has lost only once in its last 12 games at Florida.

Mike Fisher had a goal and an assist in the most recent meeting, a 5-4 win in Florida on Dec. 5, and has five goals in the last six meetings.

Fisher, though, went pointless for the fourth time in five games Sunday and the Senators lost 6-1 at Philadelphia. Kelly scored Ottawa's only goal.

Ottawa coach John Paddock, whose team opened a four-game road trip, is concerned other players aren't picking up the slack for Alfredsson and Heatley.

"I was disappointed in some individuals that are not taking advantage of stepping up," he said. "They're not being responsible in doing the right thing."

Florida also has been dealing with injuries. Rostislav Olesz has missed the last two games with a hand injury, joining fellow forwards Jozef Stumpel (shoulder) and Ville Peltonen (foot) on the sidelines.

Like their opponent, the Panthers also have lost four of five, but they are tied for the second-fewest points in the East (46).

Florida received a boost Saturday from 19-year-old Shawn Matthias, who scored his first two goals in his second NHL game, but the team still lost 5-3 in Washington.

"It's nice to get that out of the way, the first one, and it's nice to get two," Matthias said. "I wish the team won. It would have made it even sweeter."

Matthias, recalled from the Ontario Hockey League on Friday, had three goals and two assists while helping lead Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship earlier this month.

"He's a good young player. I think he's ready to play in this league," Panthers captain Olli Jokinen said. "We need our best players to play every night, and he's one of them right now."

Jokinen had a goal and an assist Saturday for the Panthers, and he leads the team with 23 of each. He had two goals and an assist in the Dec. 5 game against Ottawa.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 07 '08 FLA 4 at OTT 5 D. Heatley
Jan 22 '08 OTT 3 at FLA 5 D. Booth
Dec 05 '07 OTT 5 at FLA 4 R. Robitaille
Oct 20 '07 FLA 1 at OTT 4 S. Donovan