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Cats Down Sens 3-1

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

(from The Chronicle Herald) The Florida Panthers potted three unanswered goals to best the Ottawa Senators 3-1 in exhibition NHL action Tuesday night at the Metro Centre in Halifax.

Scott Timmins, Kamil Kreps and David Booth scored for the Panthers, who spotted the Sens a 1-0 advantage in the first period and then wiped it out within a span of 2½ minutes.

The comeback ruined a bid by former Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Pascal Leclaire and rearguard Alexandre Picard to fashion their own storybook script with the Senators in their return to their junior roots.

Picard had the first big scoring opportunity of a ragged first period when he slipped in from the blue-line on the power play and found himself alone with the puck in the high slot, only to be stoned by Panthers netminder Scott Clemmensen.

The big defenceman, who played 47 games with Ottawa last season, wasn’t denied in his next chance, opening the scoring on a blast from the point that eluded a screened Clemmensen at 15:22 of the first frame with the Panthers a man down.

But Florida answered quickly. The PA announcer hadn’t finished announcing the first goal when Timmins countered, tying the game when he was left alone to Leclaire’s left and popped home the equalizer at 16:19.

Less than two minutes later, Florida took the lead for good, scoring with an extra attacker on the ice on a delayed penalty against Ottawa. The Senators couldn’t get the puck out of their end and Kreps, left alone near the top of the faceoff circle, had time to tee up a slapshot that he whizzed past Leclaire.

The Panthers added an insurance marker with 22 seconds remaining in the second period as Booth shovelled in a rebound after Robin Lehner, who replaced Leclaire midway through the period, had stopped a shot from in close.

Cory Stillman, Bryan McCabe and Tomas Vokoun were among the front-liners not in the lineup for Florida. But the Panthers did dress a number of regulars, including the newly reunited line of Stephen Weiss, Booth and Nathan Horton, three of Florida’s top four scorers from a year ago.

"It was a lot of fun to get back on the ice," said Horton, who had two assists. "It was a little sloppy but obviously it’ll get a lot better."

The right winger, back at his natural position after playing centre during a disappointing 2008-09 campaign, said he was happy to be back on the wing and back with Weiss and Booth, the game’s second star.

"It’s really fun to be out there playing with them because they’re such great players," said Horton. "I’m really excited. I think this is gonna be a great year and I think everyone else is excited too."

Clemmensen, named the first star, turned aside 13 of 14 shots while playing the first two periods. His replacement, rookie Alexander Salak, stopped all 13 shots he faced in a busy third period. The Panthers outshot the Senators 30-27 overall.

The game, the first of the pre-season for both squads, was played before 6,148 fans, most of them squarely behind the Senators and their two former Mooseheads. The crowd was dotted with numerous Senators jerseys, though at least a handful of spectators sported Panther sweaters.


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