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Senators-Panthers Preview

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As Jaromir Jagr continues to pile up points, his team has been lacking them at an inopportune time.

Losing ground in the Atlantic Division race, the Florida Panthers attempt to avoid matching a season high with a fourth consecutive defeat Thursday night against the visiting Ottawa Senators.

Atop the division for much of a turnaround season, Florida (36-21-9) has dropped to third as a 1-3-2 stretch has coincided with strong runs from Tampa Bay and Boston. The Panthers are now two points behind both following Monday's 5-4 overtime loss to the Bruins.

Florida can take some positives from the result, as it rallied from a 4-1 deficit through one period after failing to finish strong in Saturday's 5-1 loss at slumping Arizona, where the Coyotes scored three unanswered goals in the third to end a seven-game skid.

Jiri Hudler sparked Monday's comeback with his first two goals since being acquired from Calgary on Feb. 27, while Jonathan Huberdeau returned from a six-game absence caused by a lower-body injury to record two assists and help the Panthers record a season-high 51 shots.

''It's not the result we wanted, but it's a lot better than what it started out to be,'' coach Gerard Gallant said.

Jagr added an assist for his 1,851st point, breaking a tie with Gordie Howe for third on the NHL's career list. The 44-year-old, who's generated nine of his team-high 49 points in the last nine games, also took sole possession of ninth all-time with his 1,613th game.

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"It's more for you guys (the media)," Jagr said of the milestones. "It's behind me now. Let's concentrate on wins."

Ottawa (31-29-8) finds itself in a more difficult spot, sitting 11th in the East and five points back of eighth-place Detroit with the Red Wings owning two games in hand. The Senators missed out on gaining a crucial point Tuesday, blowing an early 2-0 lead and allowing the tying goal with 0.2 seconds left in regulation in a crushing 4-3 shootout loss to Carolina.

''Every point we don't take advantage of from here is a little bit more frustrating because we're not making up any ground doing that,'' goaltender Andrew Hammond said. ''I think the two words that describe it are disappointing and frustrating.''

Hammond had 34 saves making a fourth consecutive start in place of Craig Anderson, who's expected back from a knee injury sustained Mar. 1 against St. Louis.

Anderson has allowed 11 goals over his last three starts after going 6-2-0 with a 1.61 goals-against average over his previous eight. He's permitted six in three season meetings with the Panthers, including a 2-1 shootout loss at Florida on Dec. 22 in which he compiled 39 saves.

Counterpart Roberto Luongo looks to bounce back from Monday's rough outing and reclaim his first-half form. The 2016 All-Star was pulled after one period when surrendering four goals on 16 shots and owns a 3.21 GAA since the All-Star break. He posted a 2.08 mark and .930 save percentage prior to the stoppage.

Luongo has helped Florida win two of this season's three matchups with Ottawa and registered 30 saves in 3-2 road victory on Jan. 7.

Ottawa's Zach Smith is on a three-game goal streak after scoring short-handed on Tuesday. He's amassed seven over a 10-game stretch, while Mark Stone has 10 in 18 games since the break.