Kyle Turris had a goal and two assists in Ottawa's 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday as the Senators won back-to-back games for the first time in exactly seven weeks. The last time that happened was when they posted wins on Dec. 29 and Jan. 3.
"I think we're playing better and I think we're making strides in the right direction," Turris said. "We're playing better in our own end and just playing smarter. We're doing little things that make a big difference."
Bobby Ryan, Erik Karlsson and Curtis Lazar also scored for the Senators (24-23-10), while Andrew Hammond made 21 saves for his second straight win in just his second NHL start.
Aleksander Barkov scored the lone goal for the Panthers (26-12-12), who missed an opportunity to overtake the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Roberto Luongo made 35 in the loss.
"It was a wasted opportunity and it was a tough one but we just have to put this one behind us and move on," said Luongo, who kept the game close as the Panthers were outshot 39-22. "It was one of those games where we didn't have it. Coming into the third we were down one which is a situation we've become accustomed to, but for some reason we didn't have the period we wanted to."
Karlsson scored at 8:03 of the third period to give the Senators a 3-1 lead and Lazar put the game out of reach with a breakaway goal at 12:09.
"We've got momentum now and to win back-to back games for the first time in a while is big for our hockey club," Lazar said.
Ottawa entered the third period with a 2-1 lead thanks to Ryan's go-ahead goal at 8:40 of the second period.
Although it officially wasn't a power-play goal, Ryan tipped a point shot past Luongo at the exact moment the tripping penalty to Tomas Kopecky came to an end.
Florida was fortunate to be down only a goal after 40 minutes considering they were outshot 26-15 over that span.
"I didn't like our game at all. We didn't play well at all, we didn't work hard, we didn't compete hard and it was the longest night for me behind the Florida bench this year," Gallant said. "We had a few chances in the first period and I thought Ottawa played well and they moved the puck, but we didn't have any work ethic and I thought we played a real poor game."
The Panthers opened the scoring at 7:38 of the first period just seconds after they had a goal called off because the official had blown his whistle prior to the puck entering the net.
After the ensuing faceoff the puck game to Barkov at the top of the crease and his wrist shot beat Hammond, barely making its way across the goal-line.
The Senators tied the game a little less than three minutes later when Turris took a pass beside the net from Mark Stone and deposited the in the Florida goal behind Luongo.
Ottawa completed its five-game homestand with a 3-1-1 record and will now head out on the road for five games including three in California this week.
The Panthers will play fourth game of a five-game trip in Pittsburgh Sunday night.
Notes: Eric Gryba was scratched from the Senators' lineup, while the Panthers scratched Dmitry Kulikov and Sean Bergenheim… His first-period goal gave Kyle Turris 200 career points… Senators forward Matt Puempel played his first NHL game Saturday night… Saturday's game was the 200th behind the bench as a head coach for Panthers' coach Gerald Gallant.