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Florida Panthers Fend Off Ottawa Senators 5-2

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Brady Tkachuk had a game for the ages despite the loss.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when Brady Tkachuk scored only eight goals last season for Boston University? Despite the Ottawa Senators coming up short against the Florida Panthers, Tkachuk was the player to watch in this one, netting his 20th goal of the season and twelve shots on goal, which tied the Sens’ all-time single-game record. He was the player to watch, but it still wasn’t enough to beat Florida, as their top line dominated en route to a 5-2 Panthers victory.

Right off the bat, the Sens seemed outmatched. The Panthers’ top line of Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov got to work early, and after stealing the puck from Max Veronneau in Ottawa’s defensive zone, Florida went up 1-0 on the first shot of the game. The shot from Barkov was deflected by Dadonov, and with only 30 seconds taken off the scoreboard, the Sens were in the hole.

Ottawa was on their heels for most of the period, until Colin White shifted the momentum with a single play. Taking a defensive zone pass from Brian Gibbons, White raced from one end to the other. At full speed, he danced past Aaron Ekblad, then took a shot top shelf past Roberto Luongo. It was a goal destined for the highlight reel.

Need a second angle? Have a look.

The Sens started to press in the remaining minutes of the first period, with Tkachuk receiving an excellent chance after a defensive zone turnover by the Panthers. It was stopped by Luongo, as the first 20 minutes finished deadlocked at one apiece.

Shortly into the second period, it would be the Panthers that broke the tie, with Troy Brouwer scoring his 10th of the season on Anders Nilsson. Dryden Hunt’s shot from the point was deflected by Riley Sheahan, and Brouwer was in an uncontested position in front to slow the puck and switch its direction over the pad of Nilsson.

The score difference was widened yet again, with Florida’s top line returning with fire. Barkov, being the elite player he is, found a seam through Cody Ceci with an elite saucer pass. It went to a wide open Jonathan Huberdeau, who finished the play with a quick deke. It was Barkov’s 90th point of the season — somebody needs to rescue him and get him on a playoff team ASAP. Maybe he and McDavid can together start the NHL’s 32nd franchise together.

The second half of the second period had the game’s first three penalties — two for Florida and one for Ottawa. None of the power plays were particularly effective on either side, especially with the Sens’ predictable drop pass not making any progress. Ottawa headed to second intermission down by two.

That wouldn’t stop Tkachuk from clawing the Sens back into it, scoring his 20th goal of the season in typical Tkachuk fashion, from a foot outside the crease. With Gibbons falling down after receiving Tkachuk’s pass inside blue line, he managed to swipe it across the Panthers’ net, right to Brady. His shot past Luongo brought the Sens back within one.

Ottawa pushed to tie it, but ultimately came up short. Hunt scored a long-range empty net goal to make it 4-2. Huberdeau also scored with no goalie in the crease to make it 5-2, which would be the game’s final score.

Biggest Standouts

  • Even though he didn’t stop everything, I thought Anders Nilsson still did a good job. He made a couple incredible saves, but it was Florida’s elite scorers that nobody could handle.
  • How about Brian Gibbons? He made a handful of noteworthy offensive plays in this one, which vastly exceeds my expectations from when he joined the Sens. He had two assists in this one.
  • Once again I have to shoutout Colin White for that first Sens goal *chef’s kissing fingers*.
  • It’s so amazing that I have to say it again: Brady Tkachuk had twelve shots on goal, which tied the Sens’ single-game franchise record (Jason York on January 30th 1999, in Ottawa’s 9-2 win against the New York Islanders). It was an incredible performance by the rookie, especially in the third period, despite the loss.
  • As mentioned during the game preview, the Sens held a special pre-game ceremony to acknowledge reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples, and personally I think they did a fantastic job. I absolutely love that they’re doing events like this — and they even did the minimal marketing this time!
  • Excuse me as I gush over tennis for a moment, but Canadian teens Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime are making history right now at the Miami Open (Bianca Andreescu is also amazing). If you’re looking for an alternative sports option with the Sens’ season winding down, look no further. Now back to hockey.
  • On the out-of-town scoreboard, the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-2 in a crucial matchup for the East’s second and final wild card spot. Which outcome would you rather see: the Sens receiving a higher draft pick from Columbus, or Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel spoiling the Habs’ playoff hopes?

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Up Next

The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming back to Ottawa this Saturday, exactly two weeks after the Senators pummelled them 6-2.