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Things change, but Sens' streak vs. Panthers remains

by Alain Poupart /
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Players and coaches have changed over the last two years, but what has remained constant is Ottawa's dominance over the Florida Panthers.

When the teams meet Wednesday at the BankAtlantic Center, the Senators will try to make it nine in a row in the series.

Ottawa already has beaten Florida twice this season at home, a last-minute 4-3 victory Oct. 27 and a 4-3 overtime win Dec. 22.

The streak is tied for third-longest active run by one team against an opponent.

Boston has beaten Edmonton 10 consecutive times; Calgary has nine-game streaks against Edmonton and Colorado; and Vancouver has won its last nine games against Toronto. In addition to Ottawa's run against Florida, Montreal has an eight-game win streak against Phoenix and San Jose has an eight-game win streak against Philadelphia.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was asked whether he could provide an explanation for the dominance.

"No, I can't," he said. "There's been a few different coaches the last few years here. I've been through times where we couldn't buy a win in this building, either. We know they're a feisty team and we're ready for that. We don't expect it to be an easy night and we know we have to put our work boots on to have a chance. We haven't played them here this year and we know they play really well at home. This will be a really tough challenge for us to keep that streak going."

The last time the Panthers beat Ottawa was Jan. 9, 2010, when Tomas Vokoun stopped 24 shots in a 3-0 victory. Rostislav Olesz had two goals and Nathan Horton had the other.

Vokoun now plays for Washington, Horton is with Boston, and Olesz is playing for the Chicago Blackhawks' AHL team.

"You know what? I didn't even know they beat us eight in a row until you told me," said Panthers center Shawn Matthias. "We don't really pay attention to those things. As a player, you don't want to. Obviously, we know they're a very good opponent and we know what has happened this year against them in those two games at their rink. We know we've got to put a full 60 minutes in and if you take any time off against these guys or get in the penalty box, they're deadly."

Craig Anderson was in net for Ottawa for both of the Florida games, and he's enjoyed great success on his own against his former team.

Vokoun's backup in 2008 and 2009, Anderson has faced the Panthers eight times with Colorado and Ottawa in the past three seasons. He's 6-0-1 in those eight games against Florida. His 2.22 goals-against average against the Panthers is more than half a goal better than his career GAA of 2.81.

"It's a building where I've played a lot," Anderson said of BankAtlantic Center. "You get comfortable in a spot where you know you're just going to play well. Hopefully that continues.

"Most of the guys I've played with on this team are no longer here. It's tough to really know the guys. Obviously I know the area, I know the building, I know the fans, but players always change. It's just another game, another two points against a team we need to beat to get into the playoffs."

For Coach Kevin Dineen, the streak is irrelevant.

"It's not something that we really concern ourselves with," he said. "It's really our next game. If you look back historically, there's a lot of changeover in personnel, including our coaching staff. It makes for a very respectful opponent, but certainly we feel that when we play Panthers hockey that we can be a successful team."
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