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Facing A Team With Nothing To Lose

Tuesday, 03.31.2009 / 12:38 PM / Preview
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Facing A Team With Nothing To Lose
Florida and Ottawa meet for the last time this season. Florida looks to gain ground in the playoff race with only six games remaining in the regular season. (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
By Dave Joseph for

The Panthers have been here before.

Two weeks ago, on the very morning the Lightning would come back from two goals down to beat the Panthers in a shootout, coach Peter DeBoer warned how dangerous teams were this time of year who had nothing to lose.

He reiterated those same concerns Tuesday morning at BankAtlantic Center less than eight hours before the Panthers will take to the ice against the Ottawa Senators.

It’s another big game for the Panthers, who are a point behind Montreal for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with six games remaining. Tonight will kick off a three-game homestand for the Panthers with games Friday against Atlanta and Sunday against the Penguins.

While the Senators playoff hopes are on life support – a regulation loss tonight coupled with a Montreal victory over the Blackhawks would spell their doom – they’ve been on a tear (13-3) and have been one of the league’s hottest teams.

“Dangerous team,” said DeBoer after the team’s morning skate. “They’re 7-3 in their last 10 and they’re playing with a lot of confidence; a little less pressure there, obviously, than there was before. Those are tough teams to play against. We have to treat this game exactly like we did when we went into Philadelphia (last week).”

Craig Anderson will start his third game in goal for the Panthers. Anderson stopped 72 of 77 shots in victories last week against the Flyers and Stars while posting a .935 save percentage and 2.50 goals against. Anderson is 14-6-5 on the season with a .924 save percentage and 2.73 goals against.

Anderson, like Tomas Vokoun, has helped the Panthers stay alive this season at various times, and Anderson doesn’t mind the work. He’s 6-0-2 this season when facing 40 or more shots, 9-0-3 as a Panther, and 10-1-4 in his career.

DeBoer said while he wasn’t looking forward to making a goalie change last week, the Panthers have succeeded this season as a collective unit working together.

“Our team has been all year about 20 guys, it hasn’t been about one person or one line,” he said. “Andy came in and really gave us a chance to stay alive early in the year. In November, when we were struggling and sitting in 29th, 30th place, he ran off (eight) games in a row. He jumped back in when (Tomas) Vokoun was on the injured list with the flu (in February) for 4 games. (Anderson) won us a huge game in New York at Madison Square Garden (Feb. 26). He’s done this all year.”

“(Changing goalies) wasn’t a situation we were looking forward to crossing, but those are tough decisions you have to make. Anything that gives your team a chance down the stretch.”


There’s only one that matters: Montreal plays host to the Chicago Blackhawks. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

The Canadiens end a five-game homestand tonight, going 2-1-1 thus far after losing Saturday to Buffalo in a shootout. The Canadiens are 23-8-7 at home this season. After tonight, the Canadiens play four of their next five on the road.


Stephen Weiss, David Booth and Michael Frolik.
Nathan Horton, Cory Stillman, Richard Zednik
Gregory Campbell, Radek Dvorak and Ville Peltonen
Kamil Kreps, Brett McLean and Rostislav Olesz.


Richard Zednik, who missed Saturday’s game against the Stars, has practiced the past two days and will be in the lineup tonight…The Senators are 12th in the league on the power play, 16th on the penalty kill. The Panthers are 10th in the penalty kill and 25th on the power play…Steve Eminger, Anthony Stewart and Nick Tarnasky will be the healthy scratches this evening for the Panthers…The Panthers are 21-12-6 since Jan. 1…Zednik needs one more goal for 200 in his NHL career…David Booth needs one assist for 50 in his NHL career…The Senators are 25-8-0-2 against the Panthers since 1999-2000…The Sens top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza has five goals and five assists in the last five games…




1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31


N. Bjugstad 44 15 12 1 27
J. Huberdeau 41 8 17 1 25
A. Ekblad 44 6 19 7 25
J. Jokinen 43 4 20 0 24
J. Hayes 36 13 7 1 20
B. Boyes 42 9 11 1 20
S. Bergenheim 33 7 9 4 16
T. Fleischmann 38 5 8 9 13
V. Trocheck 28 4 9 6 13
D. Kulikov 39 1 12 -2 13
R. Luongo 17 10 8 .923 2.32
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