OTTAWA - With his team poised to make a return to the post-season, Daniel Alfredsson likes how the Ottawa Senators are rounding into form.
The Senators captain scored 20th goal of the season early in the third as the Senators won their fourth straight, 3-2 over the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Saturday night.
"We can match up against anybody I think," said Alfredsson. "We know how close it is and how close a (playoff) series will be, but we feel that if we can continue here all the way to the playoffs, we can do some damage."
Brian Elliott made 20 saves and Matt Cullen and Peter Regin also scored for the Senators (41-30-5). Rookie defenceman Erik Karlsson chipped in with three assists.
Stephen Weiss and Steven Reinprecht scored for the Panthers (30-33-11), while Tomas Vokoun made 22 saves in defeat.
Leading 2-1 after two periods, Alfredsson fired a shot from just inside the blue-line in the opening minutes of the third.
Alfredsson is just four games away from the 1,000-mark and has now reached the 20-goal plateau for ten straight seasons.
The Senators, who missed the playoffs last season but sit fifth in the Eastern Conference with 87 points, got into penalty trouble later in the period and handed the Panthers two 5-on-3 power plays.
Reinprecht beat Elliott on the first opportunity at 13:14, but the Panthers failed to convert on the other as the Senators netminder made a huge glove save on Nathan Horton.
"We did a great job killing those (penalties) off," said Elliott. "Even if we get those penalties we're confident that we can kill them off."
Florida coach Peter DeBoer wasn't pleased with his team's effort.
"We're not getting anything," said DeBoer. "Whether it's a goalie pitching a shutout or a defenceman getting on the board or a forward scoring two or three, we're not finding a difference maker on any given night."
After a sluggish first period, both teams came out with a much better effort in the second.
The Panthers opened the scoring as Weiss snuck one behind Elliott seven minutes into the period.
Cullen tied the game at 15:02, burying Karlsson's rebound over Vokoun.
"I try to do my role every game," said Karlsson. "I think it's more of the team playing good and then the guys play good."
Karlsson has been getting increased responsibilities of late and Senators coach Cory Clouston has been pleased with the young defenceman's play.
"He's done a lot of good things in different areas," said Clouston. "He's playing very well, very poised."
Regin beat Vokoun through the legs at 17:40 to give Ottawa a 2-1 lead after two. Regin has three goals in his last four games.
The Senators did suffer some damage as defenceman Anton Volchenkov left the game after a collision with teammate Andy Sutton and Weiss early in the second.
Clouston said the injury doesn't appear to be serious.
Notes: The Senators were without D Filip Kuba (lower body, day-to-day), LW Milan Michalek (knee, indefinite). ... RW Shean Donovan and RW Ryan Shannon were healthy scratches. C Chris Kelly played his 400th NHL career game. The Panthers were without C Gregory Campbell (foot, day-to-day), LW David Booth (concussion, indefinite).