Senators beat Panthers, improve to 3-0

Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Nobody is off to a better start than the Ottawa Senators, and defenseman Erik Karlsson and goalie Craig Anderson are two big reasons why.
Karlsson scored the tie-breaking goal in the second period, and Anderson continued his hot goaltending as the Senators defeated the Florida Panthers, 3-1, Thursday night at the BB&T Center.
The Senators are 3-0 and have won 11 of their past 12 games against the Panthers.
"I think everyone in the room feels great," Karlsson said of the Senators' win streak. "Even if we can't play 60 (consistent) minutes, we're battling through it, and 'Andy' is playing great for us on the back end. It's been a pleasure playing so far."
Florida, meanwhile, has lost three in a row after a season-opening win. The Panthers scored four goals in their first period of the season. But in their past 11 periods, they have scored just two more.
Senators goalie Craig Anderson is now 9-0-1 lifetime against the Panthers. He spent the lockout working on goalie drills with Canucks star Roberto Luongo, and that plan is working so far because Anderson has allowed just two goals in three wins.
On the game-winner, Karlsson scored unassisted with 8:28 elapsed in the second period. He intercepted Shawn Matthias' cross-ice pass in the neutral zone and beat Jose Theodore with a wrist shot high to his stick side.
"There was a scramble out front, and we had just made a huge clear," Anderson said in describing Karlsson's goal. "We hustled back to get onside. 'Karl' is faster than almost everyone in the league. He blasted down the wing. I think Jose (Theodore) was behind a little bit. He was still recovering from the play before and maybe wasn't in the best position where he wanted to be, and Karl took advantage."
Ottawa's Marc Methot said Karlsson was just waiting for him to get onside.
"The moment I looked up, I saw Karl just staring at me," Methot said. "I wanted to hustle back for him. I know that once he has a little space, he can do some magic."
Asked if he was actually staring at Methot to get back, Karlsson sheepishly said, "Yes, I probably was."
Theodore, though, kept the score close, blocking a penalty shot by Guilliaume Latendresse with 10:49 left in the game, and the Senators already leading 2-1. Latendresse earned the penalty shot when Brian Campbell hooked him from behind as he skated in on goal.
Jason Spezza added an empty-net goal with 1:16 left in the game.
The Panthers scored first, getting a power-play goal from Tomas Fleischmann with 8:24 elapsed in the first period. His slap shot represented his first goal of the season, and the assists went to Campbell and Tomas Kopecky.
The penalty that gave the Panthers the man advantage was whistled against defenseman Sergei Gonchar, for interference.
"Traffic and bodies in front," Anderson said when asked to explain what happened on the goal. "Ask any goalie in the league -- that's the one thing we hate.
"Traffic forces the goalie to try to find the puck. Flash (Fleischmann) is a great player, and when he shoots, you don't hear him shoot. Some guys when they take a big slap shot, you can hear the puck come off his stick. But I didn't hear it come off his stick at all, and by the time I picked it up, it was already by me."
But just 14 seconds after Fleischmann's goal, he was sent to the penalty box for hooking. The Senators cashed in on the opportunity, scoring on a slap shot by Chris Phillips, assisted by Zach Smith and Methot.
Panthers forward Peter Mueller said he couldn't figure out why his team failed to sustain its offense on Thursday.
"We got off to a really good start," he said. "But for some reason, we couldn't get the puck in deep. We have to be better."
NOTES: Fleischmann, who played on the Panthers' top line last season with Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg, was without both of those forwards on Thursday. Versteeg (hip injury) has yet to play this season, and Weiss (lower-body injury) missed his first game of the year. Last season, that trio combined to score 70 of the Panthers' 197 goals. ... Versteeg is expected to return Saturday against the Flyers. Weiss' status is not yet known. ... The Senators entered Thursday well-rested, having not played since Monday's 4-0 win over Florida. ... The Panthers, meanwhile, played their third game in four nights. ... Panthers defenseman Ed Jovanovski used words such as "frustrating" and "unacceptable" to describe his team's current plight. "We have to be in desperation mode right now," he said. "We need a win, and we need one badly." ... panthers rookie defenseman Michael Caruso has been put on injured reserve with a broken arm, suffered Tuesday against Montreal. ... Florida will travel 25,059 miles in the regular season, the most of any team in the Eastern Conference. ... Ottawa forward Kaspars Daugavins and defenseman Mark Borowiecki were healthy scratches Thursday and have yet to play this season. But coach Paul MacLean said he expects to use them soon. ... The Senators conclude their Florida swing with a game at Tampa Bay on Friday before returning home to play the Penguins on Sunday. Backup goalie Ben Bishop will likely get his first start of the season against Tampa. ... Up next for the Panthers is a home game Saturday against the Flyers.

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