Florida’s Bobrovsky saves 20 shots, while Barkov contributes with 3 assists.
OTTAWA: In a 5-0 victory against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Monday, Sam Reinhart scored two goals for the Florida Panthers.
Reinhart, currently tied with Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning, holds the NHL lead with 15 goals scored this season.
“We aim to play the kind of game where we limit their opportunities,” said Reinhart. “They’re a strong rush team, so tonight we approached the game with that mindset. When we play like that, we find our rhythm. After the last couple of games, it’s good to sense that feeling returning in the room.”
Aleksander Barkov contributed three assists, and Sam Bennett added a goal and an assist for the Panthers (13-7-1), who, after losing two consecutive games (with a combined score of 6-1), bounced back with this performance.
“I was pleased with our game in the first two periods,” remarked Florida coach Paul Maurice. “We had a challenging match against Winnipeg (a 3-0 loss on Friday) that didn’t align with the style of play we aim for. Even in the third period (on Monday), things got a bit chaotic, but during the first two periods, we were quite effective in executing the technical aspects of our game plan.”
Sergei Bobrovsky secured his second shutout of the season and marked his 40th shutout in the NHL with 20 saves.
“I believe the guys did an excellent job in preventing them from scoring,” said Bobrovsky. “The forwards, in particular, did well with their backchecking, filling the lanes effectively, and not allowing them much room.”
Joonas Korpisalo, returning after sitting out the previous two games due to an undisclosed injury, stopped 33 shots for the Senators (8-9-0), who have now suffered two consecutive losses.
“We didn’t come out ready to play hard enough,” commented Ottawa coach D.J. Smith. “They took the initiative, pressing us, utilizing the walls, and delivering hits. They are one of the most competitive teams, and we discussed that, but we weren’t prepared when the game began.”
Reinhart provided the Panthers with a 1-0 lead at 1:28 of the first period, netting a power-play goal with a one-timer from the low slot following a bumper pass from Matthew Tkachuk.
Reinhart extended the lead to 2-0 with another power-play goal at 5:59 of the second period. He completed a wraparound into an open net after Korpisalo mishandled a dump-in behind the net.
“The first few special teams situations put us in a good position,” remarked Reinhart. “We came out with a playoff mentality, focusing on getting our power play going a little bit.”
Smith challenged Reinhart’s second goal for offside, but the call on the ice was confirmed after a video review, leading to a delay of game penalty. On the subsequent power play, Bennett increased the lead to 3-0 at 7:09. He executed a move around Travis Hamonic in the bottom of the left circle and scored with a backhand in tight.
“They came out heavier than us,” commented Senators forward Claude Giroux. “They won more battles, and in the first 10 minutes, it was all them. They came out hard, and we didn’t. That’s the bottom line.”
“I want to win hockey games. We need to, I don’t know… It’s really tough to say right now because a lot of things happened tonight. It’s frustrating because we know we can be better. We definitely need to figure this out,” expressed the sentiment.
Florida went 3-for-7 on the power play. Ottawa was 0-for-6.
“It’s good that our power play, our special teams, in the end won us the game,” mentioned Maurice. “Our goaltender made a couple of saves that he had to make to keep it right, but our penalty kill was as good as our power play tonight, and that won us the game.”
Carter Verhaeghe pushed it to 4-0 at 11:59 of the third period with a one-timer glove side from the left hash marks during a 4-on-4.
Eetu Luostarinen extended the lead to 5-0 at 16:32, sliding a backhand into an open net past an unsuspecting Korpisalo after Artem Zub tripped and lost the puck behind the net.
“It’s not just one person; it’s our whole group. We just need to be better,” remarked Ottawa captain Brady Tkachuk. “There are always lessons to be learned in each game, and I still have faith in what we’re doing here. I have faith in our group and our support staff, and I know we’re going to turn the ship around here.”
The Panthers and Senators amassed a total of 167 penalty minutes, including twelve game misconducts, with 10 of them issued after a scrum at 12:38 of the third period.
Maurice said, “We only reached about 160-some minutes. It has to reach the 250s before it becomes too squirrelly. Sometimes hockey becomes like that. That’s why the game is so great—it’s graceful, beautiful, physical, and angry all at the same time. It’s probably good for both teams. You get to make it part of the story of your year.”
Barkov contributed three assists, all on the power play, bringing his career power-play points to 192, surpassing Jonathan Huberdeau’s record of 190 as the most in Panthers history. Bennett, who had only scored one goal in the previous eight games this season, found the net. The goal had a secondary assist from Florida defenseman Brandon Montour, marking his first point in five games this season.