The fast-skating, hard-hitting Panthers who appeared to score off every shot in Saturday’s season opener must have stayed behind in Sunrise.
Yeah, what a difference 1,300 miles and about 78 degrees makes.
Playing in the deep chill of winter for the first time this young season, the Panthers didn’t do much of anything Monday night as the Senators dominated all phases of the game to win their home opener 4-0 at Scotiabank Place.
“It’s pretty hard when you chase your tail the whole game, and that’s what we did,’’ coach Kevin Dineen said. “They dictated the whole pace of play. It was a very disappointing effort.’’
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Florida has lost 10 of the past 11 games to the Senators, including six in a row in Canada’s capital city. Afterward, the Panthers boarded a charter bus headed east toward Montreal.
The Panthers won all four meetings against the Canadiens last season for the first time in franchise history and face the Habs on Tuesday night.
“That was unacceptable right from the get-go,’’ captain Ed Jovanovski said. “Let’s face it, we were outplayed, and they wanted it more. We had no response throughout the game. We had a flash here and there. At least we have a game Tuesday.’’
The Panthers looked about as bad in the opening 30 minutes of Monday’s game as they did terrific during that same span Saturday against the visiting Hurricanes.
Florida trailed 2-0 after Kyle Turris scored in each of the first two periods — and were real lucky it wasn’t so much worse. The Panthers can thank Jose Theodore for that as Florida was outshot 18-4 in the first and 26-16 after two periods.
“Theo was so good for us,’’ defenseman Brian Campbell said.
The Panthers started well enough and had three shots on Craig Anderson six minutes in.
Then the Panthers only took one more shot in the final 14 minutes of the period — and that was a soft wrister from George Parros that Anderson spied all along.
Florida didn’t take a real shot at Anderson for the equivalent of more than a full period as the Panthers went from 5:48 of the first until Tomas Kopecky ripped one at the former Florida goalie at 8:10 of the second.
The Panthers were still down 1-0 at that point, but Ottawa took a two-goal lead with 7:53 left in the second when Turris charged the net and redirected a slick pass from Guillaume Latendresse past Theodore, who never had a chance.
Florida went into the second intermission down 2-0 as Dineen completely reworked his lineup during the middle 20 minutes.
The Panthers’ offensive units looked nothing like they had at the start of the night as Dineen mixed more things than a South Beach bartender on a Friday night.
Things were back to relative normal to start the third as Stephen Weiss lined up for the faceoff with Tomas Fleischmann and Scottie Upshall nearby. It didn’t help much as Anderson turned back 15 shots in the third — and 31 overall — to get the 20th shutout of his career.
And how much does Anderson love playing the Panthers? A South Florida resident who spent the lockout working out at the team’s complex in Coral Springs, Anderson is 8-0-1 against his former team. Monday’s win was Anderson’s second shutout against the Panthers.
“We haven’t had good success in this building for whatever reason,’’ Dineen said. “This has not been a good place for us, a good atmosphere for us. This was right up there on the ugly list.’’
For Theodore, Monday goes into the books as a loss, but he had as much to do with the Panthers losing the game as Ottawa’s furry mascot — it’s a lion and not a politician, oddly enough — did.
Theodore, who will get Tuesday night off as Scott Clemmensen makes his first start of 2013, was credited with 33 saves as he, and the Panthers dropped to 1-1-0 in this young season.
Ottawa blew things out late in the game by scoring twice (Jim O’Brien, Jakob Silfverberg) in the final 2:25.
“We have to get back to what we do best,’’ Jovanovski said, “and that’s working hard, get the cute out of the game. We have been a resilient group. With so much hockey crammed into a short time, we don’t have time to slide. We have to get right back into the win column.’’