The Ottawa Senators are coming off one of their best performances of the early season. Their next challenge will be to put together a similar effort for a second consecutive game as their road trip continues on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.
The Senators (3-5-1) are in last place in the Northeast Division, but improved to 1-1-0 on their four-game road swing with a 5-2 victory at Buffalo on Monday. Jason Spezza had two goals and an assist in a three-goal second period for Ottawa, which snapped a four-game losing streak and now will try to win back-to-back games for the first time in 2008-09.
"The power play moved the puck real well," said Spezza, who had a goal and five assists in four games versus the Panthers last season. "It's been good the first little bit. Tonight our 5-on-5 was better and the power play kept rolling."
The Senators will start Alex Auld for the fourth consecutive game as No. 1 goaltender Martin Gerber continues to recover from a leg injury. Auld - originally drafted by the Panthers in the second round of the 1999 draft - played 27 games with them in 2006-07, but holds no grudges against the team that selected him heading into this contest.
"It's one of those things where every game is important and you can't get too focused on the personal side of things, because then your head is not in the right place," Auld told the Senators' official Web site. "I'm just going to prepare like it's any other game and be ready to go."
Auld is 1-0-1 with a tie and a 1.20 goals-against average lifetime against the Panthers.
Senators right wing Daniel Alfredsson, who had two assists in Monday's win, has six goals and seven assists in his last 12 games versus the Panthers.
Florida (4-4-0) may be coming off its worst performance thus far, a 4-0 loss at St. Louis on Saturday, coming out flat for its fourth game in a five-day span and getting outshot 31-17 while conceding a pair of power-play goals.
"The disappointing part for me is we're on the end of a trip and maybe we didn't have great legs," first-year Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "But we've got to figure out how to hang around in games like this even when we're not at out best."
The Panthers are 0-for-14 with the man advantage their last four games, and will again be without center Stephen Weiss, who will miss his second straight game due to a groin injury. Defenseman Bryan McCabe will be sidelined for his eighth straight game with a back injury, but the team is pointing to a possible return for him next week.
In the first meeting between the teams, Craig Anderson made 26 of his 41 saves in the third period to make goals by Rostislav Olesz and Nathan Horton in a 48-second span of the first period stand in a 3-1 win at Ottawa on Oct. 22.
The Senators, who wrap up their trip on Friday at Tampa Bay, have won 11 of their last 13 games at Florida.