SUNRISE (AP) – The Ottawa Senators jumped out to a strong start this season in large part because of defensive consistency and strong goaltending.
There hasn’t been as much of that lately, though Friday night’s visit to the Florida Panthers could present the Senators with a decent opportunity to win consecutive games for the first time in three weeks.
Ottawa (10-7-4) began the season 7-3-2 and allowed 2.17 goals per game in that span. Over a 3-4-2 stretch since, it’s giving up 3.11.
The Senators are making their third stop on a five-game trip, which began with a loss in Detroit before Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout win at St. Louis. Erik Condra and Alex Chiasson scored third-period goals to help Ottawa overcome a two-goal deficit in the final 12 minutes.
Robin Lehner made 27 saves and stopped all three shootout chances as the team focused on returning to its disciplined form.
“This was a good win for our team,” Lehner said. “It was very important for our team to come back here and get two points. We played the right way, tried to get back to a structured game. It’s something we needed.”
Lehner has played three of the team’s last four and gone 2-1-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average, while Craig Anderson tries to work through a stretch of recent struggles after a stellar start to the season.
Anderson has a 3.69 GAA and .894 save percentage over a 1-2-1 stretch after opening the season with a 1.72 GAA and league-best .952 save percentage while going 4-2-2.
That start included a 1-0, 30-save victory in Florida on Oct. 13. Should Anderson return to face the Panthers (8-6-6), he’s got a 10-2-0 record and 1.67 GAA in his last 12 starts against them to fall back on.
Clarke MacArthur scored in the latest win and has 11 points over an eight-game streak against Florida.
The Senators have won 14 of the last 18 meetings and will also be facing an uncertain goaltending situation.
Roberto Luongo left midway through Wednesday’s 1-0 home win over Carolina, but Al Montoya concluded the shutout with 22 saves.
“(Luongo’s) been so good for us, it’s tough to see a guy go down with an injury like that, but hopefully it’s minor,” Montoya told the team’s official website. “For me it was just about believing in my game. I’ve been working hard with the goalie coach (Robb Tallas). It’s just knowing what I can do and contributing when I get the chance.”
Luongo hasn’t been ruled out, but the team did recall goalie Dan Ellis from AHL San Antonio on Thursday when Scottie Upshall landed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.
Should they elect to turn to Montoya, they could be in good hands. He has a 1.99 GAA in three starts and three relief efforts this season.
Nick Bjugstad remained hot for the Panthers with the only goal against Carolina, his sixth in as many games to go along with three assists.
“The puck’s just going in for me,” said Bjugstad, who leads the team with eight goals.
It’s not going in much for anyone else. No other Panther has more than four, and the rest of the team has four goals in five games. Florida’s 2.05 season scoring average ranks 28th.
The power play has been barren in the last three (0 for 10) and gone 5 for 37 over 12 games.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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