The Senators begin a two-game road trip with an ugly loss to the Florida Panthers

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SUNRISE, Fla. – DJ Smith was having trouble finding the right words to explain what happened Saturday afternoon.

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He couldn’t hide his disappointment, and it’s not often you hear a frustrated Ottawa Senators coach, but he wasn’t the least bit pleased with the club’s 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers to open this two-game road trip at FLA Live Arena. .

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Outshot 24-6 and down 2-0 in the first, the club clawed its way back but gave up the game-winning goal to Florida’s Brandon Montour with three minutes left in the game as the Senators lost their third straight. road this season.

“The first period was definitely our worst period of the year. We just weren’t ready when the game started,” Smith said. “We fought, then we scored at the end of the second period and we scored with three minutes to go.

“We still struggled, but we have to be better.

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Goalie Anton Forsberg faced a whopping 56 shots. That’s just one short of the franchise record 57 allowed. He gave his team a chance to win, but goals from Nick Holden, Brady Tkachuk and Shane Pinto weren’t enough to steal two points.

Forsberg looked like he was under siege at times.

“Energy was not a problem. I felt great. It was a tough finish,” Forsberg said. “I felt like I was a little sloppy out there. I had two goals that I really wanted to get back. I would like to have the third one and I would definitely like to clean it up.

“This one is hard. I thought we fought hard for two thirds. The fourth wicket was a tough break. We just have to move on to the next one.”

After opening the season with losses in Buffalo and Toronto, the Senators were looking for their first road win here. Smith was forced to make one change when defenseman Artem Zub was sidelined for at least a week with an upper-body injury.

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Holden, a healthy scratch for the club’s 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, which halted a four-game home winning streak, was placed in the lineup. The Panthers are one of the Atlantic Division teams that the Senators will have to contend with for a playoff berth.

Smith expected another tough physical battle as Florida made changes to its roster.

That’s exactly what the Senators got.

“You can’t come out like that,” said Holden, who tied it at 11:56 of the third with his first goal of the season. “You’re not going to have your best stuff every game, but you have to be able to control the game when you’re looking for your feet or the game.”

With the Senators outscored 46-17 through two periods, Forsberg was under fire for most of the game, but he needed to make a stop on Carter Verhaeghe’s second layup with just 36.5 seconds left in the second to put the Panthers up 3-2. Lead.

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The start of the match was bad, but they erased a 2-0 deficit within one minute and 46 seconds at the start of the second match. They would actually lead 3-2, but Tim Stutzle’s goal at 5:37 was disallowed because Jake Sanderson was ruled guilty of goaltender interference.

Tkachuk tied the game at 3:23 with his sixth goal in seven games. He fired from the left circle that Knight didn’t even go further. Pinto scored his sixth power play of the year just 37 seconds into the period with a shot from the right circle.

The first period was an absolute disaster. The Senators were only down 2-0 thanks to Forsberg as the club was outshot 24-6.

With six minutes left in the first, Smith assembled the entire bench during TV time-out to try and get the club back on track. He was pointing the finger instead of having a targeted discussion with the players to try to wake them up.

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He told them, “We have to play. We were just watching,” Smith said. “Florida is a real hockey team, they won the President’s Trophy and we weren’t ready for their top line. We talked about how good the line was (Aleksander Barkov) and he had four shots and a goal in the first period.

Florida pulled ahead 2-0 at 11:54 on Barkov’s first goal of the season. That came on the power play when he fired from the left circle and beat Forsberg on the glove side.

Verhaeghe opened the scoring for the Panthers at 7:59. He took a tremendous spin-o-rama pass from Matthew Tkachuk and Forsberg fired high into the glove side. You could see it coming because the Senators just didn’t give themselves a chance.

“We came in pretty balanced and they played pretty well. We watched it a little bit,” winger Claude Giroux said. “The second and third were better, but (Florida) is a good team and when you’re down 2-0, you make it tough.

The Senators take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday to wrap up that road trip.



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