SUNRISE — Alex Lyon said he was getting as little sick of his Florida Panthers playing I Just Can’t Wait to be King from the Lion King soundtrack following his past wins.
So, after he made a whopping 56 saves in Florida’s 7-2 win over Ottawa on Thursday night, the deejay flipped to another tune.
Nothing wrong with running with what works.
Thursday, the Panthers blasted Circle of Life throughout their room, another classic from the Lion King soundtrack.
Hey, no reason to mess with tradition — regardless of how new they may be.
“Things just worked out tonight,’’ said Lyon, who set the franchise record for most saves in a regulation game previously held by Craig Anderson.
Roberto Luongo still holds the record for most saves in a game by a Florida goalie, making 57 stops in an overtime loss to Detroit way back in 2002.
“I was feeling good early and made some good-feeling saves early and that set the table for the game. It has been great, has been awesome. I am just trying my best to handle the emotions, to stay even. I really want this team to make the playoffs and that is a motivating factor.”
Lyon was good throughout the night.
And he had to be.
In the first period alone, Lyon stopped 22 shots as The Panthers had a 2-0 lead going into that break despite only getting 10 shots of their own.
At the end, Florida ended up getting outshot 58-30 with the Sens holding an eye-popping 100-45 shot attempt advantage.
The Panthers did not play bad but those are the kind of numbers one expects Florida to put up against teams like Columbus or Arizona.
One does not expect the Panthers to be on the business end of those kind of shot totals — and not being threatened much at all.
“He was so good,” coach Paul Maurice said. “He made some big saves in the first and it was almost good that he saw that many pucks early because it seemed everything was on net and that warmed him up. It made him feel really good.”
In the second period, Lyon got run by Brady Tkachuk just before Claude Giroux scored but that got the attention of the Panthers who did not let anyone near their goalie again.
More on that on Saturday.
The Panthers, up 3-1 at the time, went on the offensive in more ways than one.
When Patrick Brown followed up Brady Tkachuk’s run-in by giving Lyon the quick-stop snowshower, things went to another level.
Fights broke out all over as the two teams combined for 166 penalty minutes and what turned out to be 11 ejections — including Ottawa coach D.J. Smith.
Oh, it was a night.
Both Tkachuk brothers got booted — Brady in the second period and Matthew in the third.
Florida’s Tkachuk could have come back but there was not enough time left in the game when he took his misconduct.
He did not seem to care as he scuffled for much of the night before getting tossed to large cheers from the crowd.
“We played with the lead most of the night, which is always a good thing,’’ said Matthew Tkachuk, who was serenaded by chants of ‘Brady Is Better’ during Florida’s loss in Ottawa last Monday night. Matthew responded with two assists on Thursday to hit 105 points.
“The ‘Lyon King’ made some huge saves early just to weather the storm and let us get that lead. Once we got that lead it was a little bit crazy after that, but very happy and pleased with everybody sticking together and showing some team toughness.”
“The energy was amazing. It felt like another playoff game even though [Ottawa is] a little bit behind us. For us, it is a do-or-die game. The crowd brought it tonight and it was my way of thanking them.”
The Panthers ended up scoring five goals in the second period and took a 7-1 lead into the third period.
Florida, which gave up three goals on four power play chances to the Senators last Monday night, completely turned the tables on Ottawa in this one.
We reminded you that the Senators were the last team to beat the Panthers before the Lyon Train started up — although it appeared Florida needed no such nudging.
Like Pepperidge Farms, they remembered.
Florida scored on its first three power play chances as Barkov, Sam Reinhart and Eetu Luostarinen all cashed in with Barkov getting a shorthanded goal to kick off the second period for good measure.
The Senators had very little chance of making the playoffs coming into the night and the Panthers made sure they now have zero chance of advancing to the dance.
Ottawa played like a team with nothing to lose and the game got dragged into the mud. The Panthers played along in the slop.
Still, a fun night in Sunrise.
The Panthers got the best of Alex Lyon on Thursday night.
They have been keeping that playing on a loop as the 30-year-old goalie who should be in Charlotte is saving their season.
“The one guy who was dialed in from start-to-finish, right straight through regardless of what was going on in the game, was Alex,’’ Maurice said.
“He was good in all areas. I am happy for him because he has worked really hard to be that good. From his first tour up and then coming back in he comes to the rink even-keeled but works very hard at his game. I am happy for him because he has earned it and it has not been easy.
“Good for him. And good for us.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT WASHINGTON CAPITALS
- When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Panthers won 2-1 (d. Capitals 4-2 in first round)
- This season (Florida leads 2-0): Panthers 5, Capitals 2 (Nov. 15); Panthers 6, Capitals 3 (Feb. 16)
- All-time regular season series: Washington leads 67-45-12, 9 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Monday, Toronto Maple Leafs at Florida, 7 p.m.