Jimmy Hayes' tiebreaking goal 7:31 into the third period gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators at BB&T Arena on Friday.
The Panthers trailed 2-1 after two periods but tied the game 34 seconds into the third on a goal by Sean Bergenheim. Hayes put Florida in front for the first time when he drove to the net and slammed home a backhand feed from the lower left circle by Vincent Trocheck.
"We've had some chemistry going," Hayes said. "We've been talking about that when one guy has the puck, we have to play a north-south game; the other guy has to get to the net. He's been finding me there."
Defenseman Dylan Olsen had the other goal for Florida (9-6-6), whose 46 shots were a season high and far above their average of 29.1 per game. Chris Neil and Cody Ceci scored for Ottawa (10-8-4), which had 39 shot attempts and allowed 72 to the Panthers.
"We have too many excuses," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "We need results. We need people who want to come here and compete."
Florida's big third period, in which the Panthers had an 18-4 advantage in shots on goal, spoiled a superb performance by Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson, who finished with 43 saves.
MacLean had kind words for his goaltender, but no one else.
"We have a very good goalie," he said. "The rest of the group [was] not even close to being acceptable.
"We can't always blame it on being young. We can't have excuses. We have too many excuses right now. We need results. We need people who want to come here and compete and play the game to win."
Backup goaltender Al Montoya, playing in place of injured starter Roberto Luongo, stopped 22 shots for the Panthers.
"It's easy to get frustrated when you see your guys out there dominating the game and Anderson was standing on his head," Montoya said. "I'm thinking it's only a matter of time before it goes into the net, and when called upon I want to make that one save that I have to make.
"We were playing so well that this is one we wanted to have and deserved to have. I'm glad we were on top."
The Senators had the better of play in the first few minutes and took the lead 5:04 into the game. Neil was left unchecked in front of the net to pick up the deflection of Erik Condra's pass and whipped it past Montoya for his fourth goal.
That seemed to wake up the Panthers, who needed all of 47 seconds to get even. Anderson stopped Trocheck's wrister from well inside the left circle, but Trocheck chased down the loose puck behind the net and flung a pass up the middle. Olsen grabbed the pass and zipped a shot through traffic that hit Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips, and then deflected off Anderson and into the net for his first of the season.
"Our game plan going in was simple; get the forecheck going and kind of be the energy line," said Trocheck, who had two primary assists and finished with five shots on goal. "We noticed that their [defense] coughed up pucks whenever we came in hard, so we kept doing it."
Anderson kept the game tied early in the second period by stopping Trocheck on a breakaway and denying Tomas Fleischmann's wrister in a span of eight seconds. Ceci then put the Senators back in front at 2:41 with his first goal of the season, taking advantage of another fortunate carom. Neil forced rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad into a turnover in the Florida zone, and his shot caromed off Ekblad's partner, Brian Campbell, right to Ceci, who had slipped into the right circle and fired a wrister from the dot that beat Montoya.
Anderson preserved the lead just over three minutes later when he got his glove up to stop Jonathan Huberdeau's wrister on another breakaway. Anderson stopped yet another breakaway 8:30 into the second when he denied Brad Boyes, then got his pad out to stop Bergenheim's backhander on the rebound.
The Panthers outshot the Senators 28-20 through two periods and had a 47-28 edge in shot attempts.
"We played probably our best offensive game of the season," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said.
Florida tied the game 34 seconds into the third period when Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson turned over the puck along the left half-wall. Boyes set up Bergenheim for a one-timer from the faceoff dot that caught the inside edge of the short-side post and went into the net for his third.
"You can't ask your goalie to bail you out every game. That's way too many odd-man rushes," Neil said. "We didn't have everyone on the same page. It was just a brutal game by us."