Florida entered the Ottawa matchup on a two-game road losing streak against the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers, with a season record of 4-3-1. They faced a Senators squad with a similar record of 4-3-0.
Florida Soars in the First
It was all Florida in the first period, as the Panthers trounced Ottawa with both shots on goal and power play opportunities.
The action began eight minutes in when Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe opened up the scoring with a long-range shot coming off a behind-the-back pass by left-wing Matthew Tkachuk, who was credited with the assist along with defenceman Brandon Montour.
Matthew Tkachuk is CRAZY for this pass 🥵 pic.twitter.com/ww0r9FC7UD— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) October 29, 2022
Florida kept up the pressure after a holding penalty on Ottawa center Derick Brassard. After three straight shots on goal, the Panthers broke through thanks to Aleksander Barkov, who rifled a right-side shot that sailed by Senators goalie Anton Forsberg. Tkachuk was once again credited with the assist.
The rest of the first period was an exchange of shots on goal with almost as many penalties called on each team, including three right after a brawl by Panthers defenceman Radko Gudas and Senators left-wing Parker Kelly.
Gudas would be hit with another penalty- this time for holding- that would carry over to the second period, but the Panthers retained their 2-0 lead.
The Senators Climb Back
Ottawa wasted no time in the second period coming off the heels of the Gudas power play, with a shot by Shane Pinto 36 seconds in cutting the lead to 2-1. Pinto’s goal was assisted by Claude Giroux, a former member of the Panthers who signed with the team late last season and was released this offseason.
The Senators doubled down almost three minutes later, as left-wing Brady Tkachuk, brother of Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk, tied the game at two goals each.
Ottawa believed they scored a third goal after a Senators shot bounced off of the skate of Verhaeghe and into the net. However, Florida challenged the play citing goalie interference on Spencer Knight. After a quick review, it was determined that the Panthers were correct, and the goal was erased.
After that, both teams shared turns taking shots on goal, but Florida was more aggressive with 46 shots up to this point, more than doubling Ottawa’s 17. Despite this, the score remained the same for most of the second period, even as seven penalties were handed out between both teams.
It felt like the game would remain tied until 36 seconds left to play in the second, as Verhaeghe sank a right-side shot that bounced inwards off the post of the net for Carter’s second goal of the game.
CARTER. VERHAEGHE. pic.twitter.com/9x0NqP3iYc— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) October 29, 2022
Florida held on to their 3-2 lead heading into the third period.
A Decisive Third Period
While the first ten minutes of the third period resulted in no scoring, the action ramped up with 11 minutes to go.
Matthew Tkachuk thought he had earned a goal for the Panthers. However, the play was challenged by Ottawa, citing that Florida was offsides. After a very brief review, the goal was taken away and the lead remained 3-2.
The Senators sprang back to life not long after, as Pinto scored his second goal of the game after a barrage of shots on Knight, tying the game at three goals each.
Florida’s struggles to get the puck into the net ended with three minutes to go, as Montour sank a long-range shot that was assisted by Barkov, giving the Panthers a late-game lead.
THE SHOT! THE CELLY! pic.twitter.com/ubLPrXsfdS— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) October 29, 2022
Out of desperation, Ottawa took out their goalie right after in exchange for another attacker, but all that created was another goal for the Panthers, as Tkachuk capitalized on an empty net to secure a 5-3 win for Florida as the time expired.
The Statistics & What’s Next
Florida was an offensive powerhouse, producing 57 shots on goal compared to Ottawa’s 26. Still, the Panthers had four power play opportunities but only produced one goal.
Offensively, Verhaeghe led the way for the Panthers with two goals and an assist. Barkov, Mountour, and Tkachuk all earned two assists, and Knight achieved 26 saves.
With the win, the Panthers improve their record to 5-3-1 and are in sole possession of second place in the NHL Atlantic Division, edging out the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Boston Bruins are still in first place with a record of 8-1.
Florida will head on the road for a west-coast swing, taking on the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, November 1st at 10 PM. They’ll then set up shop in California against San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim. Florida’s next home game is on Wednesday, November 9th at 7 PM against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Photo | JC Ruiz