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Lehner gets start for Senators against Panthers

by Brian Hunter /

SENATORS (29-29-13) at PANTHERS (26-38-8)


Last 10: Ottawa 2-6-2; Florida 3-6-1

Season series: This is the fourth and final game between the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers. After the Senators won the first two, the Panthers responded with a 4-2 win in the most-recent game on Dec. 19 on late goals by Tom Gilbert and Tomas Kopecky.

Big story: Even though the Senators are all but mathematically eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention, they're coming off their best night in weeks. They got goalie Craig Anderson back from injury Monday, though he didn't start. Robin Lehner did and helped Ottawa snap its six-game winless streak with a 4-3 shootout victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Team Scope:

Senators: Playing the back end of the standard two-games-in-two-nights Florida trip, Lehner will remain in goal for Ottawa. Anderson hasn't started since March 10, when he had to leave a game against the Nashville Predators after injuring his shoulder in the third period.

That was the night the Senators' skid began, and Lehner struggled through much of it. He came up big Monday, however, stopping 35 shots. Even though Ottawa was unable to hold a 3-1 lead, Jason Spezza scored in the second round of the shootout and Lehner held the fort on all three Tampa Bay attempts.

"Obviously we were down, it's been a frustrating stretch of games here," Spezza said. "Difficult emotionally for us to lose that many hockey games in a row at this time of year. The win can give us some confidence, show us that we can do it and we can win games. And now we've got to go do it again [Tuesday]."

Panthers: This is the opener of a three-game homestand for Florida, which had an eventful road trip through the Western Conference. Roberto Luongo got it off to a winning start with a 52-save effort against the San Jose Sharks, but the Panthers were outscored 12-3 in losing the final three games.

Luongo, who is 10-11-1 in his career against the Senators, should be back after Dan Ellis started Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. The Panthers rallied from an early 3-0 deficit to draw within a goal, but another blitz by their opponent led to an eventual 6-2 defeat.

"Halfway through the game it was 3-2 and they had 14 shots," veteran defenseman Ryan Whitney said in the Florida Sun-Sentinel. "We were playing well and were taking it to them. They called a timeout and came out hard and we kind of got away from what we were doing well."

Who's hot: Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson has goals in consecutive games and a six-game point streak overall (two goals, eight assists). … Panthers forward Jimmy Hayes has six goals and four assists in his past 12 games.

Injury report: Senators defenseman Chris Phillips (upper body) left the game late in the first period Monday and won't play. Forward Bobby Ryan (lower body) missed the game Monday and will be out again Tuesday. He will then be re-evaluated. … Florida forward Jesse Winchester (lower body) will return to the lineup Tuesday and defenseman Erik Gudbranson (knee) is expected back Thursday. Kopecky (concussion) is sidelined along with defenseman Alex Petrovic (upper body) and forwards Aleksander Barkov (knee) and Jonathan Huberdeau (lower body).

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