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Florida Panthers GameDay

Florida Panthers try to end losing streak Thursday against Ottawa Senators

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Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas is upended by Ottawa’s Austin Watson during the Senators’ 8-2 win at FLA Live Arena in December. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

The last time the Ottawa Senators came to Sunrise, they handed the Florida Panthers one of the worst home losses in franchise history.

Come Thursday night, the Panthers have bigger things on their mind than just a little payback.

Although, they’ll take that as well.

”They are a good team that works hard,” Jonathan Huberdeau said of Florida’s 8-2 loss to the Senators on Dec. 14. It was the Panthers’ worst home loss since Philadelphia beat Florida 7-1 on Jan. 26, 2013. Huberdeau played in his fifth game with the Panthers that night.

”But for us, we lost three in a row at home and we’re not used to that. It’s more about us. We need a better start and it doesn’t matter who the team is coming in. We need to be way better. We know we are a better team. We just need play with a little more intensity and have better execution.”

The Panthers come into their matchup with the Senators riding their longest home losing streak of the season.

”We have to face this time and it will make us stronger in the end,” Anton Lundell said. “You can’t always win. When you lose, you need to take a step from it.”

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Florida entered last week with three home losses — and doubled that total with losses to Nashville, Columbus and Edmonton.

The Panthers are ready to put that losing skid to rest.

“We are always in games and the last game against Edmonton could have gone either way,” Huberdeau said. “Those things happen. That’s hockey. We have to battle back and that’ll be good for our confidence. It’s good to have some adversity, that will help us in the playoffs. The way we answer will show our character. … We have won a lot of games this year. Three loses in a row? We just need to regroup.”

As for the Senators, they come back to Sunrise in a different situation than the previous time.

Ottawa was flying high after blanking the Lightning 4-0 at home. It also got to play a Florida team perhaps not at its best.

The day after the game, the Panthers had five players test positive for Covid with more to come.

Currently, the Senators have lost four of their past five games — including 5-2 at Tampa on Tuesday night in a game in which they were not feeling their best.

According to the Ottawa Sun, at least 10 players were dealing with a stomach bug that had roared through the team locker room.

The Panthers have had five days between Thursday and that loss to the Oilers and the Panthers got in two good practices.

They know the Senators, despite their illnesses and their recent run of losses, are going to bring it on Thursday night.

“You have to respect every team and even if they are low in the standings, you know they’re going to play hard,” Huberdeau said. “They want to show they can beat the best teams in the NHL. We have to be better.”

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

OTTAWA SENATORS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise 
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM/SiriusXM
  • Last season: Did not play
  • All-time regular season series: Ottawa leads 56-40-4, ties
  • This season — Ottawa leads 1-0: Ottawa 8, @Florida 2 (Dec. 14)
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