SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators may be on two different sides of the NHL standings but that does not mean the first-place Panthers can overlook their opponents come Tuesday night.
Sure, the Senators only have eight wins — the same amount the Panthers kicked off their season with.
But four of those eight wins have come in Ottawa’s past five games.
And the Senators have beaten some of the NHL’s best teams during that span.
While the Panthers are coming off a 3-2 loss to Colorado in Denver on Sunday, the Sens are flying high after shutting down the Lightning 4-0.
Ottawa lost five consecutive games after having three games postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak ravage the team.
Since Dec. 2, however, the Senators have won four of five — including in Carolina and New Jersey while beating Colorado and Tampa Bay on home ice.
“We’re understanding what it’s going to take for us to win games and be competitive for 60 minutes,” Austin Watson said following Monday’s practice in Sunrise per Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.
“When you go through that stretch like we did, and we worked our tails off to get out of it but to get that first win to get out of is always the hardest.
“Going into that win over Carolina, it’s just resonated how hard guys have to work to win that game.”
Florida will again be without Sasha Barkov who was put on injured reserve retroactive to last Tuesday’s loss in St. Louis.
By putting Barkov on IR, the Panthers were able to put goalie Jonas Johansson on the roster after plucking him off the waiver wire from Colorado.
Johansson is expected to be in town in time for Tuesday’s game but likely will not suit up.
Sergei Bobrovsky will back up Spencer Knight in net tonight.
Anthony Duclair has missed the past seven games but is back and will play against his former teammates (story coming).
— The Panthers were missing a couple players (Ryan Lomberg, Gus Forsling) at morning skate.
Lomberg is out because he is in Covid-19 protocol; Forsling is battling a non-Covid illness and did not participate in morning skate. He is not officially out, but likely.
Aleksi Heponiemi is on his way down from Charlotte although Mason Marchment worked with the team Tuesday.
— Former Florida defenseman Josh Brown, who was traded to Ottawa in 2020, is on the IR with an upper body injury and won’t play against his former teammates.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
OTTAWA SENATORS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WQAM 560
- NHL Betting Odds from FanDuel: Florida favored (PL -1.5 +175) — (ML -146) — U/O 6
- Last season: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Ottawa leads 55-40-4, ties
- Up next: Los Angeles at Florida, Thursday, 7; Ottawa at Tampa Bay, Thursday, 7
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 9 Sam Bennett // 13 Sam Reinhart
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 15 Anton Lundell // 10 Anthony Duclair
77 Frank Vatrano // 19 Joe Thornton // 74 Owen Tippett
21 Aleksi Heponiemi // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 70 Patric Hornqvist
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
4 Olli Juolevi // 62 Brandon Montour
32 Lucas Carlsson // 7 Radko Gudas
30 Spencer Knight
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
Scratched: Jonas Johansson
Injured: Noel Acciari (LTIR), Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Sasha Barkov (IR), Maxim Mamin (IR), Mason Marchment (IR), Gus Forsling (ill), Ryan Lomberg (Covid)
PROJECTED OTTAWA SENATORS LINEUP
7 Brady Tkachuk // 9 Josh Norris // 19 Drake Batherson
10 Alex Formenton // 18 Tim Stutzle // 28 Connor Brown
13 Zach Sanford // 71 Chris Tierney // 63 Tyler Ennis
21 Nick Paul // 27 Dylan Gambrell // 16 Austin Watson
72 Thomas Chabot // 22 Nikita Zaitsev
5 Nick Holden // 2 Artem Zub
29 Dillon Heatherington // 98 Victor Mete
31 Anton Forsberg
31 Filip Gustavsson