Senators-Panthers Preview

The Associated Press

The Florida Panthers are hoping to put a couple of poor games behind them.

Getting back on track could prove difficult with the Ottawa Senators coming to town.

The Panthers try to snap a nine-game winless streak versus the Senators, who have a chance to post three consecutive road shutouts for the first time in franchise history Sunday night.

Two days after an embarrassing 7-0 loss at Winnipeg, Florida (30-22-12) suffered a 3-1 home defeat to Nashville on Saturday. Recently-acquired Wojtek Wolski provided the team's only offense while Scott Clemmensen made 20 saves.

Despite outshooting the Predators 40-23, the Panthers failed to increase their two-point Southeast Division lead over the second-place Jets.

"This is it, this is what you play hockey for - to be in these situations and compete to get into the playoffs. We've got a great squad here, we've had a bit of a hiccup the last few games but we're a confident bunch, we'll straighten it out and get things on track," said right wing Jerred Smithson, acquired from Nashville in exchange for a sixth-round pick prior to the trade deadline.

"We're gonna have to bear down a little more, get more contributions from everyone on the team and find a way to score more goals ... We'll learn from it, move on - we got a huge game (Sunday) that's a must have."

Florida has struggled mightily versus the Senators (34-24-8) of late. Since prevailing 3-0 in Ottawa on Jan. 9, 2010, the Panthers have been outscored 38-18 during an 0-8-1 skid in the series.

Florida could have an especially hard time getting on the board against a Senators team that has won four straight road games including three shutouts - the lone exception being a 6-2 win at BankAtlantic Center on Feb. 15.

In its two games away from home since beating the Panthers, Ottawa defeated the New York Islanders 6-0 on Feb. 20 and pulled out a 1-0 win at Boston on Tuesday.

The Senators were the ones who couldn't generate enough offense at home Friday, falling 2-1 to Chicago. Milan Michalek's team-leading 29th goal was the only tally of the night for Ottawa.

"(The Blackhawks) were flying from the start," said Robin Lehner, who turned away 37 shots. "It's too bad we came up short ... We have to move forward."

Lehner has come up big with No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson (lacerated right hand) sidelined, going 3-1-0 with one shutout and a 1.50 goals-against average. Lehner has never faced the Panthers.

Florida's Jose Theodore, who was pulled in the third period Thursday after allowing four goals on 24 shots, is 0-2-1 over his last three home starts despite a 1.64 GAA.

Theodore is 4-10-2 with a 3.41 GAA over his last 16 starts versus the Senators, none of which have come this season. Clemmensen may not be a better option, as he's 0-3-1 with a 4.73 GAA in his four most recent matchups with Ottawa.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is surely looking forward to Sunday's affair. He has six goals and seven assists during a seven-game point streak versus the Panthers - notching at least one goal and one assist the last four times he's faced them.

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