It was a record breaking night for the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. Not only did veteran center Chris Gratton play in his 1,000th NHL game, but center Jozef Stumpel played in his 900th NHL game and goalie Craig Anderson saw his first serious action of the season, in the stead of starting goalie Ed Belfour.
Unfortunately, the otherwise positive night was spoiled by a 4-2 Panthers loss to the Ottawa Senators in front of 14,202 at the BankAtlantic Center.
Despite the score, the Panthers carried play for nearly the whole game, outshooting the Sens 37-19, and holding a significant edge in scoring chances.
The line of Olli Jokinen, Jozef Stumpel and Rostislav Olesz was the Cats most productive line, scoring both Panthers goals.
With Ottawa up 4-0, Stumpel got the Cats on the board with his 20th of the season from Olesz and Jokinen. The goal was of the highlight reel variety, as Stumpel weaved through three Ottawa defenders and beat Sens goalie Ray Emery on the backhand to make it 4-1.
In the third period Jokinen scored to make it 4-2 on assists from Olesz and Stumpel. Unfortunately, despite a significant edge in shots, the Cats would not get any closer. Emery made 34 saves on the evening, including 27 total in the second and third periods as Florida poured it on in an attempt to pull back even.
Craig Anderson came in about midway through the second period in relief of Belfour, who was starting his 25th consecutive game. Anderson stopped a two-on-one break right off the bat and never looked back, stopping 11 shots in 27 minutes of shutout hockey.
Head coach Jacques Martin pulled Belfour after Patrick Eaves, Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Dean McAmmond scored for the Senators.
The Cats are back in action on Saturday night when the Atlantic Division leading New Jersey Devils visit the BankAtlantic Center for a 7:30 p.m. face-off.
- Olli Jokinen has 11 goals and eight assists in his last 12 games - Jacques Martin coached his 1,008th game, passing Jacques Demers for 10th on the all-time list. - With two points on the night second-year forward Rostislav Olesz broke the 30-point barrier for the first time in his career. - The Panthers defense allowed only 19 shots on goal. - Cats 2006 first round draft pick Michael Frolik was in attendance for tonight's game.