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Senators host Panthers in home opener

by Matthew Mankiewich /

PANTHERS (1-0-0) at SENATORS (1-0-0)

TV: RDS, FS-Florida, SNET-East

Season series: Ottawa fans get to see these Panthers only once this season, while the Senators visit Sunrise twice. It also means the Panthers have only one shot this season at ending a five-game losing streak at Scotiabank Place. Their last win was a 3-0 shutout on Jan. 9, 2010.

Big story: It was mission accomplished for both teams on opening night, each coming away with a big win. The Panthers delighted a full house at home by knocking the wind out of the Hurricanes in a 5-1 victory, while the Senators shut down the Jets 4-1 in Winnipeg. Senators faithful will pack their building to welcome their team home.

Team Scope:

Panthers: Those who were lucky enough to get in the building Saturday night got an unexpected treat as rookie Jonathan Huberdeau gave them a taste of what they hope will be very good things to come. The third player taken in the 2011 NHL Draft pick made his NHL debut by scoring a goal and assisting on two others while earning the game's First Star. Coach Kevin Dineen constructed his second line entirely of newcomers as Alexei Kovalev had a goal and two assists as well, while free agent Peter Mueller chipped in another helper.

"You've all heard a lot about Jonathan Huberdeau and I think you got a pretty good snapshot of his high-end skill set tonight," Dineen said to "A coach always picks out little things that you can work on here, but that was a fairly impressive debut, to say the least. So we're really excited. It's great chemistry by those three and it was a great start for them."

"It's the best possible scenario," Huberdeau added. "I'm happy with how things unfolded. It was my first game and I want to keep playing like this. It sure feels good to start my career with a game like that."

Senators: Never mind the score, the Senators felt their 4-1 win in Winnipeg could have been played better.

"I thought the game was played a little bit like a dog's breakfast ... in the first and second period," coach Paul MacLean said. "And the third period, I thought we were able to get control of the game a little bit and establish a little bit more of our game."

After Dustin Byfuglien scored early on the power play, the Senators tied the game on a goal by Milan Michalek and went ahead late in the second period when Chris Neil scored. Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson scored in the third period and set up a late goal by Kyle Turris for a three-point afternoon.

"I think the pace slowed down a little bit and it probably wasn't the best-played game from anyone," he said, "but we've just got to continue here and try to get the feeling back as quick as possible."

Who's hot: Karlsson, the runaway leader in scoring by defenseman last season, is off to a fast start with three points. ... Florida goaltender Jose Theodore is coming off an excellent showing on Saturday in which he made 41 saves.

Injury report: For the Panthers, who's in is just as important as who's out. Defensemen Mike Weaver and Dmitry Kulikov are expected to make Monday's lineup, while forward Kris Versteeg (groin) is doubtful. Defenseman Erik Gudbrandson, who injured his shoulder wakeboarding, is still a couple of games away, while Sean Bergenheim (groin) and Marcel Goc (leg) await medical clearance as well, which would end their suspensions for sustaining injuries either not from hockey or playing elsewhere. … Senators defenseman Mike Lundin is on injured reserve with a broken finger.

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