SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Ottawa Senators have lost three straight in regulation for the first time this season, but they’re hoping the return of goaltender Craig Anderson can make a difference Sunday against the Florida Panthers.
Anderson, who leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.49) and save percentage (.952), will be in net for the first time since Feb. 21 when he sustained an ankle injury against the New York Rangers.
"It can certainly help the psyche of your team, for sure," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "We can use that boost right now."
Given the success he's enjoyed against his former team, this seems like an ideal time for Anderson to make his return after missing 19 games.
Anderson, who was a backup to Tomas Vokoun for the Panthers from 2007-09, is 9-0-1 with a 1.89 GAA and a .941 save percentage in 11 career games against Florida.
For Anderson, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is. He's just happy to be back.
"It's been a long time coming," Anderson said. "I've had a lot of time to think about this and think about getting back in there and just making sure I feel good when I do play. Right now everything is feeling good. It's exciting to be back with the guys and being able to play for them and give them an opportunity to win the game."
With MacLean giving his players the day off Saturday, Anderson stayed at his home in Coral Springs, Fla.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson, meanwhile, played golf and shot a 74.
"You always have to look at the big picture," MacLean said. "We're playing 48 games in 90-some days and the games are more important than the practices. We're more concerned with how we play the games. Right now we're in a place where we have time to get some rest and we try to take advantage of that. At the same time, it is a results-oriented business and we need some results tonight."
Because of the 6 p.m. start Sunday and his team's losing streak, MacLean changed the morning skate routine.
The coach did away with the traditional games that usually close out the workout, such as playing keepaway.
"In the last few games we haven't come out and started very good," MacLean said. "We tend to stay on the ice for pregame skates and play stupid pet tricks maybe a little bit longer than we should. We just wanted to make sure with the 6 p.m. game that we managed our time a little bit better. I decided to take charge of managing the time as opposed to allowing them to."
In addition to Anderson, the Senators will have a lineup change on defense, with Andre Benoit taking the place of Mike Lundin.
The Panthers did not have a morning skate after playing the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
Center Drew Shore, who missed the 4-3 loss against the Washington Capitals because of an upper-body injury, could be back in the lineup Sunday.
Here are the projected lineups for the Senators-Panthers matchup:
Guillaume Latendresse - Kyle Turris - Daniel Alfredsson
Cory Conacher - Mika Zibanejad - Jakob Silfverberg
Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil
Matt Kassian - Peter Regin - Erik Condra
Chris Phillips - Andre Benoit
Patrick Wiercioch - Sergei Gonchar
Marc Methot - Eric Gryba
Scratched: Jim O'Brien, Mike Lundin, Mike Hoffman
Injured: Jared Cowen (hip), Mike Hoffman (collarbone), Erik Karlsson (Achilles), Milan Michalek (knee), Jason Spezza (back)
Jonathan Huberdeau - Shawn Matthias - Peter Mueller
Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky
Quinton Howden - Nick Bjugstad - Jack Skille
Scottie Upshall - Scott Timmins - George Parros
Brian Campbell - Tyson Strachan
Filip Kuba - Erik Gudbranson
TJ Brennan - Dmitry Kulikov
Injured: Drew Shore (upper body), Mike Weaver (lower body), Ed Jovanovski (hip), Stephen Weiss (wrist), Kris Versteeg (knee), Jose Theodore (lower body), Eric Selleck (upper body), Sean Bergenheim (lower body)