Panthers-Senators Preview

The Florida Panthers seek progress and consistency.

They’re getting a great deal of both of late.

Enjoying their best stretch of the season by far, the Panthers

look to beat the Ottawa Senators on the road for the first time in

nearly four years Thursday night.

Florida (13-17-5) has won four straight and six of its last

seven games, matching its win total over the previous 27 after

opening the season with a win at Dallas on Oct. 3.

The Panthers, who haven’t won five in a row since March 11-20,

2012, kept the current run going with a 3-1 victory at Toronto on

Tuesday, two days after opening this four-game road trip with a 2-1

win at Montreal.

“We’re looking for progress,” coach Peter Horachek said. “We’re

looking for consistency in our play.”

They’re getting it practically across the board offensively, as

11 players have at least one goal over the past seven games while

six more have managed at least an assist.

Dylan Olsen has been a big surprise, leading the team with seven

points over that stretch. The defenseman had one point over the

previous four games after being recalled from San Antonio of the

AHL.

The 28th overall pick in the 2009 draft by Chicago, Olsen

managed one point in 28 games with the Blackhawks in 2011-12 before

spending all of last season in the minors.

Scott Clemmensen may get a fourth consecutive start in net after

compiling a 1.30 goals-against average while winning the last

three. His performance against the Maple Leafs was his best yet,

making a season-high 28 saves.

Clemmensen, though, has lost his last two games at Ottawa

(14-16-6), giving up nine goals on 60 shots.

The Panthers have lost seven in a row at Canadian Tire Centre,

including a 3-2 defeat Nov. 9. They lost 4-2 at home to the

Senators on Dec. 3, the game immediately prior to Florida’s recent

surge.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored in that meeting, and he’s expected to

return Thursday. The reigning Calder Trophy winner has missed the

last two games with a foot injury, but Horachek claimed that he

could have played Tuesday.

With Huberdeau potentially back and the Senators struggling, the

Panthers are poised to get their first win in Ottawa since Jan. 9,

2010.

The Senators are growing frustrated on a 3-3-2 stretch, and

Wednesday’s 5-2 loss at New Jersey was enough for them to call for

a closed-door meeting.

“Totally frustrated with our lack to string together another

win,” captain Jason Spezza said. “We gave up a short-handed goal.

Your power play is supposed to gain momentum for you. We gave up

another pretty quick. It’s tough to come back on the road,

especially against a team like New Jersey.”

Bobby Ryan was held without a point by the Devils after

collecting six over the previous five games. The left wing leads

the team with 16 goals, scoring one against the Panthers earlier

this month.

Ryan has one point in each of his past four meetings with

Florida, while defenseman Erik Karlsson has seven points over his

last six home matchups.

With Robin Lehner starting in New Jersey, Craig Anderson is

likely to get another shot at his former team Thursday. Anderson is

10-1-1 with a 1.66 GAA in his last 12 starts against Florida.