Defensive zone breakdowns, turnovers at the wrong places, and goalie gaffes led to their undoing and five goals of offense wasn't enough for the Senators. Mike Condon didn't get a lot of help at times, but his turnover behind his own net that led to the Panthers' go-ahead goal in the third period was the dagger. It was a crazy first period reminscent of the Sunday night against Columbus. Ottawa had build a 4-2 lead on the strength of three straight goals after Florida took a 2-1 lead, but that evaporated quickly and the third period Condon turnover to Jonathan Marchessault with just over 6 minutes left gave the Panthers the lead for good.
It did require an empty netter from Jason Demers, one that looked like insurance at the time but turned out to be the game winner as Ottawa scored one late.
Roberto Luongo was good but not great (more accurately his timing was good) in the Florida net, stopping the Senators from extending leads. The Senators were also victims of some very unfortunate bounces. The second Panthers goal went in off the foot of Chris Wideman (although Jaromir Jagr was right there to knock it in had Wideman not done so first), but none was greater (or worse) than Kyle Turris blocking his own shot. With a yawning cage and a Luongo down and out in a goal-mouth scramble, the puck squirted out to Turris, who flubbed the shot a bit and his follow-through actually stopped the fluttering shot from reaching the open net and brought it back toward himself.
Ryan Dzingel scored twice, response each time to two Panther goals by Michael Matheson and Mark Pysyk in the first period, and Ottawa actually took a lead before the period was out on a laser beam from the faceoff circle by Wideman, atoning for his earlier own-goal. Erik Karlsson scored early in the second to extend the lead, but that was short-lived as the Panthers responded less than 20 seconds later to get it back to a single goal margin. Matheson tied it up with his second of the game just before the midway point of the frame, setting the stage for fate to intervene on Condon.
It was a relatively chippy game with lots of after-whistle activity that resulted in seven power plays (4 for the Senators) and some 4 on 4 action. Neither team could cash in on the man advantage, but each team counted 4-on-4.
While the Condon mistake loomed large, he was hung out to dry on a couple of occasions, with the Wideman bounce as well as a lack of backchecking on a 3 on 2 and nobody picked up the third guy.
It was an overall messy game, especially the first half. Both teams settled down after that, but Ottawa made more mistakes, and the Panthers did a better job of capitalizing on them. Even the empty netter that turned out to be the game winner went off the stick of Erik Karlsson, who was on for 8 of the 11 goals in the game, 4 by each team. At one point he was +4, but wound up even on the night.
Ottawa missed out on a great opportunity to open some distance in the standings, but fortunately the Leafs and Lightning both also lost so the only team that gained ground on them in the division from the outside was the Panthers. Boston also won, moving into a tie points-wise with the Senators, but Ottawa still has five games in hand on the B's.
Florida was missing to of their top players in Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, and although it was a sloppy game that is no excuse. As I feared yesterday, the Senators played to the level of their competition and beating teams above them in the standings is great, but beating the teams below them is almost essential if you want to be taken seriously. They will get two more chances on this road trip, as Thursday's opponent, Tampa Bay, are 8 points behind them and Saturday's opponent, Buffalo, is currently 9 points in arrears.