Florida Panthers top Senators, win fifth in a row

Tom Gilbert’s power-play goal late in the third period lifted the Panthers past the Senators for their fifth consecutive victory.

12/20/2013 12:01 AM

03/14/2014 2:45 PM

The Panthers faced a little adversity on Thursday night but carried on and continued their hot streak in Ottawa.

Florida won its fifth straight after getting a pair of late goals from Tom Gilbert and Tomas Kopecky to knock out the host Senators 4-2.

The Panthers, who have won seven of their past eight, had lost seven straight in Ottawa including a 3-2 decision in coach Peter Horachek's first game behind the bench last month.

The Panthers conclude their four game Canadian road trip Friday in Winnipeg as they try to go for the Great White Sweep. Florida started this trip with a win in Montreal before beating the host Maple Leafs and Senators.

"There's no perfect formula for winning,'' Horachek told reporters afterward. "We got into the game and they got the lead. We had to stick with it. It works out to be a pretty good road game.''

Goalie Scott Clemmensen was terrific in winning his fourth straight start although he had plenty of defensive help - especially late when the Panthers were forced to kill a penalty up 3-2. Not only did Florida kill the penalty, but Tomas Kopecky broke out and scored the clincher while short handed.

"It was a good effort, a good road game by everyone,'' Clemmensen said. "It's never easy playing in someone else's building especially here. We went down early but stuck to it, played with confidence. I think that's the biggest difference now to back to the begining of the season. We believe we can win.''

Said Horachek: ''[Clemmensen] has been good, he's been rock solid. He's made the saves we've needed him to make. He keeps us in the games, stays in control. Now that he's been playing, he looks comfortable. Timing is important.''

Former Florida goalie Craig Anderson came into the night 10-1-1 against the Panthers.

Florida led 1-0 under six minutes in when Krys Barch blocked a Joe Corvo shot to get things moving. Shawn Matthias fed Jimmy Hayes who beat Anderson.

The Panthers lead wouldn't stand for long when Chris Neil knocked in a loose puck with his skate. The goal stood after review. Ottawa then made it 2-1 going into the second.

Florida tied it on a goal from Aleksander Barkov late in the period, a score that stood until late in the third when Gilbert took a nice feed from Tomas Fleischmann and beat Anderson.

"That was a great play by [Fleischmann],'' Gilbert said. "Guys are believing in our system, doing the right things. Obviously your best player is your goaltender and we've been getting a lot of good play there lately.''

With 2:15 left, Mike Weaver was called for tripping Jason Spezza, but the Sens couldn't convert on the power play although Florida did with Kopecky scoring. Florida matches its longest winning streak since the final weeks of the 2011-12 season.

-- Horachek didn't say whether Tim Thomas would come off the injured list Friday and play in Winnipeg, adding that they would meet about it.

"We'll see what the trainers say,'' Horachek said. "He's close. We may give him the extra time. We need to talk about it.''

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