The Florida Panthers may have come into Ottawa with new leaders, but they left with a familiar result.
Kyle Turris had a goal and an assist in the Senators’ 3-2 win over Florida on Saturday, spoiling the debut of the Panthers’ new coaching staff.
Kevin Dineen was let go as the head coach of the Panthers on Friday along with assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Craig Ramsay. Dineen was replaced with Peter Horachek, who was the coach of Florida’s minor-league team in San Antonio.
Original Florida captain Brian Skrudland — who had been serving as the team’s director of player development — and former Panthers centre John Madden became the replacements for Murphy and Ramsay.
The trio had barely 24 hours, and one practice in order to get the team ready for a pair of weekend games.
“It’s impossible and it’s not going to happen so what you can do is make little changes,” Horachek said after the game.
“What you hopefully are going to create is an attitude about work. When there are changes, people hesitate. You know, they’re not playing the way they need to, just reacting instead of thinking, and so you add a little bit each time and hopefully you’re going to continue that and get them to a place where the work is fun and the work is solid and consistent.”
Mika Zibanejad and Clarke McArthur also scored for the Senators (7-6-4), who won for the third straight time. Lehner made 25 saves for the win.
Nick Bjugstad and Marcel Goc replied for the Panthers (3-10-4), who have now lost eight straight, despite a 28-save performance from Tim Thomas in his first game back after missing six straight with a lower body injury.
“We’re starting to feel pretty good about ourselves,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said. “I thought the way we played was pretty solid and Robin Lehner gave us another good game. We also kept the shots under 30 which certainly gives our goalies a chance to play well.
“I thought our penalty killing, especially the five-on-three in the third period with Derek Grant, Marc Methot and Jared Cowen was outstanding and a big reason why we won the game.”
Trailing 3-1, the Panthers had a two-man advantage for a minute and 17 seconds in the third period and despite controlling the puck for nearly the entire time, they were unable to beat Lehner and put only three shots on net.
The Senators took four minor penalties in the third period alone.
“That five-on-three was huge,” Senators defenceman Methot said. “It’s very frustrating as a player, especially towards the end when we’re taking all those penalties. It’s like we’re trying to give them an opportunity to get back in the game, but Lehner was huge for us back there.”
Less than three minutes after the second penalty ended, Goc beat Lehner with a wrist shot to pull the Panthers to within a goal.
The Senators scored the only goal of the second period on the front end of a five-on-three power play.
After passing the puck around the Panthers’ end, McArthur was finally able to put a one-timer past Thomas after taking a pass from defenceman Erik Karlsson.
Two quick goals by the Senators put the Panthers on their heels early and presented the visitors with a deficit from which they were never able to recover.
The first goal came off the stick of Turris, but it was the work of Bobby Ryan that made it possible. Ryan broke in alone on the Boston goal and was stopped by Thomas, but Ryan followed the puck to the corner and sent a pass to Turris at the edge of the faceoff circle. Turris’s shot promptly beat Thomas with at 1:45.
Just 19 seconds later, Zibanejad scored from behind the net as he banked a shot off Panthers defenceman Erik Gudbranson and in following a Florida turnover in their own end.
“The game started out a little scrambly and I felt a little out of sorts at the beginning and kind of wasn’t awake for that first goal,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t expecting a shot to come from that angle and I had to get back into game type of thinking rather than practice.”
The Panthers got on the board one minute later on a great effort from Bjugstad, when he got away from Karlsson and cut to the front of the net to jam the puck past Lehner.
Karlsson’s defence partner, Cowen, also appeared to back off while in front of the net allowing Bjugstad extra room.
The rest of the period featured multiple odd-man breaks for both sides and a lot of back-and-forth play, but no more goals.
Notes: Eric Gryba and Joe Corvo were both scratches for the Senators Saturday afternoon while the Panthers Scott Gomez and Jacob MarkstromaBobby Ryan collected a first-period on the Senators’ first goal Saturday and in the process extended his point streak to six game (3G 7A)a Dineen’s coaching record with the Panthers was 56-62-28, including 3-9-4 this seasonaWhile sitting out the first game of a three-game suspension, Panthers’ forward Jesse Winchester not only missed out on playing his 250th NHL game, but also facing the team on which he played his first 233 games.
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