Florida Panthers vs. Ottawa Senators Recap 02/20/2024

Lundell celebrates scoring in overtime. Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Florida played Ottawa back in November, one moment in particular got everyone’s attention, the ref calling, “Every player on the ice has a 10 misconduct,” which led to about half of each team’s bench being thrown out of the last seven and half minutes of play. Needless to say, this was a highly anticipated rematch with the Tkachuk brothers facing off. It seemed like all the offensive juice was utilized during the Tampa Bay beatdown from Saturday as the forwards for Florida struggled to score. However, the defensemen were there to pick up the slack and produced goals for the Cats. Another area of struggle tonight was the power play, which is highly unusual for Florida, but the penalty kill was still strong against the Senators. A bright spot for the Panthers and the hero of the night is Anton Lundell, his production has picked up since HC Paul Maurice moved Rodrigues to his line.

Defensemen Producing Offense:

In a night that saw every forward line seeing some chances but struggling against the Ottawa defense, it would be the Cats’ own defensemen to come in to find the scoring chances. Ekblad scored just 19 seconds into the game, doing his best impression of Tampa Bay from the last game. Montour gave Florida the 2-0 lead heading into the 3rd period. There were plenty of chances for the Florida forwards tonight, but it was just one of those games where nothing seemed to work from the usual spots. Ottawa defense also was blocking shots left, right, and center, ending the game with 29 blocked shots, they had 17 blocked shots in just the first period alone. With the regular scorers struggling to find the net, the defensemen really stepped up as an important part of the offense and showed that Florida’s offense can take many forms. 

Power Play Struggles, but Penalty Kill is Perfect:

Florida had three power play opportunities tonight. Usually, those are good for at least 1 goal if not more, the power play has been absolutely deadly for the Panthers this season. Ottawa was all over Reinhart, though he still managed to get a couple of shots from the slot off. This could be a bit of a trap game for the Panthers, especially after how emotionally charged the Tampa Bay game was. Despite the PP struggles, the PK looked like its normal self and kept Ottawa from scoring any goals during their man advantages. In their last four games, the PK has gone 12/13 in killing penalties, the lone power-play goal coming during the Tampa Bay game. Its aggressiveness has caused problems across the board for other teams and kept opponent power-play goals to a minimum. 

Anton Lundell On The Rise:

The overtime hero for the first time in his career was Anton Lundell. He made an incredible shot from an extremely sharp angle that went over Korpisalo’s shoulder and bar down into the net. Lundell was out with Tkachuk and Montour during overtime, not his usual linemates. Lundell has been a quieter presence on the team down on the 3rd line up until about January when Barkov and Cousins got hurt, and the lines got shuffled a bit. With Barkov out, HC Paul Maurice had moved Lundell and Luostairnen up to play with Reinhart, and they played well together proving that those two are capable of playing up to the level of Reinhart. While working Barkov back into the lineup, HC Paul Maurice opted to keep Lundell and Luostarinen up with Reinhart for the time being, and once Barkov was fully back, the status quo returned as well. The forward lines seemed to be struggling during the Washington Capitals, and HC Paul Maurice decided to switch things up and moved Rodrigues down to play with Luostarinen and Lundell, which was something that got dabbled with during all the injuries in January. Since the adjustment, Lundell has scored 4 goals & 6 points in 5 games. Consistent production out of the bottom 6 is important for the playoffs, so if this type of points scoring continues, it’ll be a vital part of the offense come April and take some of the pressure of goal-scoring off the top 6 players. It’ll also stress opponents’ defenses and make the team harder to scout if they can get goal-scoring from any line at any time. Lundell’s play is getting better as the season has progressed, and it showed that HC Paul Maurice had confidence in him to put him up on a line with the team’s leading scorer, Reinhart, when necessary. His overtime goal was a highlight reel worthy one and gives the team good momentum going into Thursday’s game against Columbus.

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