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Panthers continue Canadian swing at Ottawa

by Matthew Mankiewich

PANTHERS (3-4-0) at SENATORS (3-5-1)

TV -- FS-Florida (HD); SNET-Ottawa (HD)

Season series -- It's the first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference rivals. Ottawa won three of four last season after the Panthers did the same in 2008-09.

Big story -- Both teams are struggling with slow starts, though things have started to pick up a bit for the Sens, who dispatched the Coyotes 5-2 on Tuesday at Scotiabank Place. The Panthers continue on their three-city Canadian tour, still seething over Tuesday's controversial 3-1 road loss to the Maple Leafs on a missed goalie-interference call.

Team scope

Panthers -- Owning up to it doesn't reverse the loss, unfortunately. While just about everyone save the referees believes Colton Orr interfered with Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen when he scored the game-winner for the Leafs on Tuesday, the call stood -- as did the score. On Wednesday, though, NHL president of hockey operations and supervisor of officials Colin Campbell admitted a mistake was made.

"It's quite obvious if they had the chance to see it again, you would hope the call would be made that it was interference on a goaltender,'' Campbell said to the Miami Herald. "This happens. It doesn't happen often, but it's certainly a call you wish was made differently.''

Senators -- Tuesday's win would make anyone giddy. Erik Karlsson and Alexei Kovalev scored a team-record nine seconds apart, making Sergei Gonchar's 1,000th NHL game that much more memorable. A solid win in Buffalo on Friday, the team's first on the road, was a confidence-builder, too.

Unfortunately there's a Saturday night 3-0 shutout at the hands of the Canadiens that brings people back down to earth.

"It's a process all the time," captain Daniel Alfredsson told the Sens' website Wednesday. "There's ups and downs and you've just got to continue to improve. We're happy that we had the effort that we did yesterday. Now it's back to work tomorrow."

Who's hot -- Alfredsson has 5 goals and 9 points in his last six games, including a goal and assist against the Coyotes and a hat trick in Buffalo that gave him 1,000 career points. … Florida's Bryan McCabe hasn't scored a goal on his own yet, but has all six of his assists in the last four games.

Injury report -- Jason Spezza (groin) isn't expected to play against the Panthers, but the team hopes he'll be available for Saturday's home game against the Bruins. Karlsson and forward Milan Michalek took maintenance days off practice but should be ready to go. Goalie Robin Lehner missed practice due to illness, leaving Spezza's younger brother Matthew to strap on the pads during practice. Panthers center Shawn Matthias (foot) missed the Panthers' last two games and remains questionable.

Stat pack -- Kovalev's two goals and an assist on Tuesday gave him his first multi-point game since Feb. 14, 2010, on Long Island. … The Panthers got their second power-play goal of the season Tuesday when Dennis Wideman tied the game at 1 in the second period. At 2-for-26 (7.7 percent), they're 27th in the League.

Puck drop -- "When you look at the fact it's not March; it's not the playoffs, but still two points is two points. Florida's been in position before where one point made the difference in the playoffs or not." -- Colin Campbell on the missed call Tuesday night

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