NHL

Senators-Panthers Preview

Spending 2 1/2 weeks at home could take even more stress off a Florida Panthers team that already is enjoying its best stretch of the season.

The Ottawa Senators haven't had much to be happy about on the road since the last time they visited the Panthers.

Florida looks to win a fifth straight game by dealing Ottawa a fifth consecutive road loss Tuesday night.

The Panthers (18-12-4) have won 10 of 13 since Nov. 27 and began their current winning streak by taking the last three of a four-game road trip. Jaromir Jagr then moved into fourth place on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list with his 732nd in Sunday's 5-4 shootout win over Vancouver.

''That goal is sweet but the win is even sweeter,'' Jagr said. ''It is special. I've played with a lot of great players; that makes it a lot easier for me. I started with great players in Pittsburgh and I'm going to finish here with great players.''

Aaron Ekblad, Shawn Thornton and Vincent Trocheck also scored for the Panthers, who began a six-game homestand that will take them through Jan. 5.

Roberto Luongo made 30 saves against his former team and is 7-3-0 with a 1.88 goals-against average during Florida's hot stretch.

"It's been a real good run," coach Gerard Gallant said. "We have one more huge game coming up here Tuesday before the break. ... We battled back, the last 20 games have been really good for our club."

The Panthers have won three of their last four at home, with the lone setback a 4-2 loss to Ottawa (17-12-5) on Dec. 8. Zack Smith scored in that contest for the Senators, who have been outscored 14-5 on the road since that win.

They've dropped four of six overall after falling 5-2 at Tampa Bay on Sunday. That marked their sixth loss in seven road games after starting 7-2-1 away from home.

''It's a little different for us,'' Smith said. ''We're usually pretty strong on the road. Too many mistakes, too many turnovers.''

Injuries didn't help either. Forward Bobby Ryan left early with a hand injury, and defenseman Cody Ceci played only five shifts in the first period before leaving with an upper-body issue.

Ottawa also played most of the game without defenseman Mark Borowiecki, who received a game misconduct less than two minutes in for an interference major.

Erik Karlsson scored but played nearly 37 minutes with Ceci and Borowiecki out. The Senators failed on all five power-play chances and are 1 for 20 with the man advantage over their last six.

"Just tough one to swallow. When you get down short bodies as early as we did, especially on defense, makes it a tougher game to play," said Andrew Hammond, who stopped 30 shots. "We had a lot of guys playing more minutes than they are used to and it just makes it really hard to sustain for 60 minutes."

Former Panther Craig Anderson is expected to be in net for this contest. He's 7-2-0 with a 1.56 GAA in his last nine starts at Florida after making 25 saves to win the last meeting.

Luongo stopped 19 shots in that contest and has lost three straight starts against the Senators after winning his previous 10.

Comments

More NHL