Senators-Panthers Preview

Craig Anderson has given a big lift to the Ottawa Senators,

leading them to more wins in the last 2 1/2 weeks than the previous

two months combined.

He could continue this impressive run against one of his former

teams in an arena where he hasn’t fared well lately.

If he makes a ninth straight start since being acquired,

Anderson will look for his sixth victory with the Senators on

Thursday night when they visit the Florida Panthers.

Floundering at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, Ottawa

(23-34-9) made a number of moves to overhaul its roster immediately

before the trade deadline. It sent Brian Elliott to Colorado for

Anderson on Feb. 18 in a trade of struggling goaltenders.

The new surroundings have seemingly given Anderson a much-needed

fresh start.

Anderson has started all eight of Ottawa’s games since the deal,

going 5-3-0 with a 1.49 goals-against average and one shutout. He

has allowed one goal or fewer in six of those outings, including a

31-save performance in a 2-1 win over surging New Jersey on

Tuesday.

With Anderson in net, the Senators have allowed the NHL’s

third-fewest goals with 13.

Ottawa, 4-15-6 in its previous 25 games before Anderson took

over in net, had allowed the league’s third-most goals with 190

before the trade.

Anderson made his second start with the Senators against Florida

on Feb. 23, stopping 23 shots in a 5-1 victory, Ottawa’s fourth

straight win in the series.

Anderson, who spent three seasons with the Panthers (27-31-9)

before signing with Colorado in 2009, improved to 2-1-0 with a 2.46

GAA in four starts against his former team. He hasn’t had much luck

back in Sunrise, Fla., since leaving the franchise, however,

stopping 60 of 69 shots in two games at the BankAtlantic

Center.

“It’s exciting to get back to Florida and play in that old

barn,” Anderson said. “We had some great fans when I played there.

They’ve always been good to me. It would be nice to go in there and

return the favor because I haven’t played my best in that building

yet.”

Although Anderson has struggled there lately, the Senators have

had no such trouble, winning 14 of their last 17 visits.

The Panthers are coming off Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Chicago,

snapping a season-high five-game losing streak.

Florida jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes behind goals

from David Booth, Clay Wilson and Marty Reasoner, then withstood a

furious rally by the defending champions.

The Blackhawks, who had won eight straight, outshot the Panthers

29-7 over the last two periods, but Tomas Vokoun made several

clutch saves and finished with 37.

“We can beat any team in this league, it seems like, or play

with any team,” said Booth, who has scored in three straight games.

“It’s just we’ve got to do it on a consistent basis.”

Florida hasn’t posted back-to-back victories since a three-game

winning streak from Jan. 11-15, but Vokoun might not get a chance

to make it happen.

His worst career goals-against average (3.46) and win-loss

record (3-10-0) are against the Senators, and he was given the

night off in the last meeting. Backup Scott Clemmensen didn’t do

much better in his place, stopping 29 of 34 shots.