NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, March 31st
(All times eastern)
Ottawa Senators (33-32-10) at Florida Panthers (37-28-11), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - If the Panthers are to make the playoffs for the first time
since the 1999-2000 season, they might have their backup netminder to thank.
Craig Anderson is expected to make his third straight start tonight versus the
Ottawa Senators at BankAtlantic Center.
Anderson made his first appearance since March 1 on Thursday versus
Philadelphia and made 40 saves in the victory. It was a gutsy move by head
coach Peter DeBoer, who will go with his backup netminder again tonight over
Tomas Vokoun with his team one point back of Montreal for the eighth and final
playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Panthers have 85 points on the season but have also played one more game
than the Canadiens, who host Chicago tonight.
Anderson made his second straight start on Saturday versus Dallas and made 32
saves. He has faced the Senators four times in his career and is 2-1-0 with a
2.06 goals against average.
Cory Stillman finished with a goal and two assists in Saturday's 6-3 win.
Nathan Horton, Radek Dvorak, Stephen Weiss and Jay Bouwmeester each had a goal
and an assist for Florida, which had lost seven of its last eight prior to
consecutive wins. The club has scored 10 goals over its last two games after
netting just 16 over the previous eight.
The Panthers begin a three-game homestand tonight and are 19-11-7 as the host
this season. Florida has lost four of its last five in Sunrise and will also
receive visits from Atlanta and Pittsburgh.
While the Panthers are hoping to end their seven year absence from the
postseason, the Senators are inching closer to having their run of 11 straight
playoff appearances end. Ottawa, which played in the Stanley Cup Finals just
two years ago, is 11th overall in the East with 76 points, 10 behind Montreal
with seven games to play.
Ottawa ended a back-breaking two-game losing streak on Sunday with a 3-0 win
over Tampa Bay. Rookie Brian Elliott halted all 20 shots he faced to post his
first-career shutout, one game after getting pulled in the second period of
Saturday's 6-3 loss to Atlanta.
Elliott, who has never faced Florida, has still won nine of his last 11 starts
and is 16-6-3 in 29 games this season with a 2.64 GAA.
Skating in his 500th career game, Dany Heatley notched his team-leading 35th
goal, while Ryan Shannon lit the lamp in a fourth straight contest and posted
his sixth point of a five-game point streak. Jason Spezza scored his 30th goal
of the season in helping the Sens win for the sixth time in eight games.
Ottawa has split the first four games of a six-game road trip that will end in
Boston on Thursday. The Senators are 13-20-4 as the visiting team this year.
The Sens are 1-1-1 versus the Panthers this year, but have won eight of the
last 11 in the series. Ottawa has also posted a victory in four of five and in
12 of its last 14 trips to Sunrise.
03/31 10:48:13 ET