NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 19th (All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (13-17-5) at Ottawa Senators (14-16-6), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers will try to extend their longest winning streak of the season to five games when they visit the Ottawa Senators for Thursday's Atlantic Division clash at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Panthers have won four in a row for the first time since a five-game tear from March 11-20, 2012 and Peter Horachek's club also has six victories over its last seven outings. Florida is 10-8-1 since Horachek took over head coaching duties on an interim basis following the firing of Kevin Dineen in early November.
Florida, which is 2-0 so far on a four-game road trip, is coming off Tuesday's 3-1 win in Toronto. Sean Bergenheim scored and had an assist and Aleksander Barkov had a pair off helpers to help the Panthers improve to 6-10-2 as the road team this season.
Tomas Fleischmann and Brad Boyes also scored and Scott Clemmensen stopped 28 shots for the Panthers.
"They were on the road last night and came in late ... so we have to take advantage," Boyes said of the Maple Leafs. "We got some goals early and it was kind of big to get that momentum."
Jonathan Huberdeau missed his second straight game for Florida on Tuesday and the young forward is questionable for tonight with a foot injury. Former Senators forward Jesse Winchester is also questionable for Thursday after sitting out the last game with a bruised hand.
Florida will have to end a lengthy drought in Canada's capital city if it wants to extend its winning streak on Thursday. The Senators have won seven straight on home ice against the Panthers, who last won in Ottawa on Jan. 9, 2010.
The Senators are 2-0 against Florida this season and have claimed four of five and 13 of the last 15 meetings in this series. The Panthers enter tonight's divisional tilt only three points behind Ottawa for sixth-place in the Atlantic.
Ottawa has battled inconsistency all season long and enters Thursday having lost five of its last eight games. The Senators dropped their second tilt in three outings on Wednesday, when they were slammed 5-2 in a road game against the New Jersey Devils.
New Jersey led 3-0 by the early stages of the second period on Wednesday and Ottawa was never able to get the deficit under two goals after that. Colin Greening and Milan Michalek scored for the Senators, who couldn't maintain momentum from a 3-2 overtime victory against St. Louis on Monday.
"We're a long, long way from being an elite team," said Senators head coach Paul MacLean.
Robin Lehner stopped 28 shots in Wednesday's defeat, but Craig Anderson expects to get the call tonight. Anderson, who played for Florida from 2006-09, is 10-1-1 with a 1.91 goals against average against his former team.
Ottawa is opening a three-game homestand tonight and will play six of its next seven at Canadian Tire Centre. The Sens are just 7-9-3 as the host in 2013-14 after going 15-6-3 last season.
12/19 11:16:23 ET