Ottawa (23-34-9) at Florida (27-31-9)

By MATT BECKER, STATS Senior Writer Thursday, Mar 10, 2011 Puck Drop: 7:30 pm EST Thu Mar 10, 2011

Craig Anderson(notes) 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(notes) 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(notes), Clay Wilson(notes) and Marty Reasoner(notes), 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(notes) 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(notes) didn’t do much better in his place, stopping 29 of 34 shots.

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Thursday, Mar 10