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Florida Panthers Pregame: A ‘dangerous’ Senators team returns to Sunrise

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The last time the Ottawa Senators came to town, they not only beat the Florida Panthers — they blew them out of FLA Live Arena. — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

SUNRISE — On the surface, the 19-28-5 Ottawa Senators may be what the doctor ordered for a Florida Panthers team looking to snap a three-game losing skid.

That assumption may be wrong.

The last time these two teams met, Ottawa defeated Florida 8-2 on Dec. 14 in what was the second game of a three-game regulation losing streak for the Panthers.

“They beat us in every aspect of the game, so we have to be ready for it tonight,” interim coach Andrew Brunette said.

“Their team is out every night. They’re young and they’re out to prove how good they are and how good they want to be.”

That was indeed how it played out the last time these two teams met.

Florida went 0-6 on the power play while allowing the Senators to beat them 20-10 on high-danger scoring chances.

At the time, it was only Florida’s second loss on home ice that season.

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“For them, they’re thinking this is a huge test and they’re playing one of the top teams and they want to make a big statement,” Brunette said.

“For us, we have to get off a little bit of a skid here and get back to how we play on home ice and how we dominate games.”

While Ottawa is known for its three top young stars — Thomas Chabot, Drake Batherson, and Brady Tkachuk — it was the Sens’ depth which took over in their last trip to Sunrise.

Josh Norris scored two goals while Austin Watson, Nick Paul and Dylan Gambrell each added goals in the eight-goal onslaught.

“[Norris] is a very underrated player and always kinda has been,” Brunette said.

“I remember watching him his draft year, he’s a very smart, intelligent player, and he really fits well with Tkachuk.”

Batherson, who was slated to represent the Senators in the All-Star game this season, also had four points (one goal, three assists) during Ottawa’s win over Florida, but he will not be available.

He is still out with a high-ankle sprain he suffered from a collision with Aaron Dell just before the All-Star Break.

“They’re missing Batherson, who is an outstanding player that I was kind of looking forward to coaching at the All-Star Game,” said Brunette, who coached the Atlantic Divison team last month. “I played with his dad, so that would have been a nice thing.”

With Batherson out, the Senators are heavy underdogs, but the Panthers have learned their lesson to not take this game lightly.

“They have a lot of [young talent] and they keep coming, so they’re going to be a dangerous team in the future, but they’re going to be dangerous tonight,” Brunette said.

“They thumped us last time, so we already know they’re dangerous.”

Morning Skate Updates

  • Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal for the Panthers on Thursday, Jonas Johansson will back him up.
  • No lineup changes from Saturday’s loss against the Edmonton Oilers — Frank Vatrano remains on the third line, Mason Marchment will play on the top line and Lucas Carlsson gets the nod over Olli Juolevi.
  • Petteri Lindbohm is still not with the team yet, he is still going through the visa process and is expected to join Florida’s active roster sometime next week.

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
  • FanDuel odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-420); Puck line (-2.5, +110); Over/Under 6.5 (-140/+114)
  • 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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