Huberdeau scores twice, Panthers beat Senators 5-2
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — The Florida Panthers put coach Bob Boughner’s pregame talk into action.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice and the Panthers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night in a matchup of teams eliminated from playoff contention.
Troy Brouwer, Dryden Hunt and Evgenii Dadonov also scored for the Panthers. Roberto Luongo made 28 saves.
“I thought we played a lot harder defensively,” Boughner said. “My talk before the game was not so much about x’s and o’s, it’s about competing and winning your one-on-one battles and I thought we did a lot more of that.”
In a difficult season on and off the ice, Brady Tkachuk is becoming the face of the franchise for the Senators.
Tkachuk and Colin White scored for the Senators, who had their three-game home winning streak snapped. Anders Nilsson made 29 saves.
Tkachuk, the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft has 20 goals this season and tied a single-game franchise mark with 12 shots on goal.
“Tkachuk was sensational,” interim head coach Marc Crawford said. “That’s as good a game I’ve seen from anybody, let alone a rookie, this year.”
The 19-year-old Tkachuk tied Alexandre Daigle for most goals in a season by a teenager with the Senators. With 12 shots Thursday, he also tied Jason York’s single-game franchise record, set in 1999.
“We’ve all been excited about how he’s played all year,” Crawford said. “It’s been a process for him. He’s a very bright kid who continues to learn each and every outing. There’s very few games where he doesn’t give you a total committed effort.”
While Tkachuk was excited to hit the 20-goal mark, he was disappointed by the loss.
“It’s nice, but at the end of the day we didn’t get the two points,” said Tkachuk.
Trailing 3-1 to start the third, the Senators made it a one-goal game on Tkachuk’s 20th.
Hunt and Huberdeau each scored empty-net goals to seal the win for Florida
Tied 1-1 to start the second, the Panthers had a solid period and went in front 3-1.
Just as in the first period, the Panthers scored an early goal in the second when Brouwer grabbed a rebound in front and backhanded a shot past Nilsson just two minutes in.
Less than four minutes later, Florida made it 3-1 as Huberdeau took a great pass from captain Aleksander Barkov and beat Nilsson from close range for his 26th of the season.
The teams were tied 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Florida scored 30 seconds into the game when Dadonov deflected a shot by Barkov.
The Senators tied the game at the 12-minute mark as White took the puck in his own end and cut through Florida’s defense, beating Luongo on the glove side.
While he didn’t pick up a point, Florida’s Brady Keeper made a significant impact in his NHL debut. The 22-year-old undrafted defenseman from the University of Maine signed with the Panthers on Monday, making him the first person from the Pimicikamak Cree Nation to make it to the NHL.
Before the game, the Senators welcomed members of First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities and held a ceremonial puck drop. Keeper was invited to take the faceoff in place of Barkov to commemorate the event.
“It means a lot,” Keeper said of taking the faceoff. “I didn’t know that was going on, but it was pretty cool I got the chance to take the faceoff. The guys yelled at me and told me to come take the faceoff so that was pretty special.”
NOTES: Ottawa center Jean-Gabriel Pageau was named as the Senators’ Masterton Trophy nominee Thursday. The award is given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. ... Ottawa was without Zack Smith (back) for the third straight game.
Panthers: At Boston on Saturday.
Senators: Host Toronto on Saturday.