Butler, Senators finally finish Panthers in overtime

The Ottawa Senators provided their fans with more of the same as a pre-Christmas gift Thursday, delivering a wild 4-3 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers.

Butler, Senators finally finish Panthers in overtime
Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators scores during the shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators provided their fans with more of the same as a pre-Christmas gift Thursday, delivering a wild 4-3 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers.

Bobby Butler, of all people, finished it off, beating Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen at the 2:02 mark of extra time. Butler’s attempted pass to Erik Karlsson deflected off the skate of defenceman Brian Campbell, between Clemmensen’s legs.

Butler, only in the lineup because of injuries to Milan Michalek, Jesse Winchester and Peter Regin, scored for the first time since Nov. 15, when he netted a pair against the Calgary Flames.

“Any overtime win, it feels good,” said Butler. “It has been awhile, so it definitely felt good.”

Senators coach Paul MacLean has been impressed by Butler’s determination to improve, even when he hasn’t been in the lineup.

“Bobby’s really been working hard off the ice,” said MacLean, praising his improved defensive play. “I’m pretty sure he was trying to pass it (to Karlsson), but it’s a great reward for him for working hard.”

As crazy and goofy as the third period and overtime was — once again fans, don’t dare leave the building early when the Senators are playing – it’s in keeping with the pattern this season. The Senators lead the NHL in both goals scored (51) and allowed (48) in the third period.

The Senators never should have allowed the game to get to overtime, failing to nurse a 3-2 lead, as Tomas Kopecky tied the game 3-3 with only 1:12 remaining in regulation – and Clemmensen on the bench for an extra skater.

Ottawa had nursed the tender one goal lead after Erik Karlsson had given them a 3-2 The Karlsson goal had capped a wild stretch of 2:05, which also included power play goals from the Senators’ Daniel Alfredsson and the Panthers’ Shawn Matthias. Alfredsson’s goal was the 399th of his career, and he also assisted on the goals from Karlsson and Chris Neil.

“It was a real positive because we ended up winning the game in overtime, but I thought we (gave away) the puck twice on their third goal,” said MacLean, smiling widely, along with his players, as the club prepared for its late night charter flight for Carolina and Friday’s game against the Hurricanes. “The team game was very good for us tonight.”

The back and forth third period took some attention away from Nick Foligno’s controversial second period hit on Panthers defenceman Keaton Ellerby, which resulted in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. The call had the Senators and their fans up in arms for most of the middle period.

Ellerby was skating with the puck behind the goal line and ducked his head as he curled to make his turn up the ice. Foligno slowed up and turned his back into Ellerby, sending the defenceman flying.

Originally, there was no penalty called on the play. After the officials huddled together, however, Foligno was given a five-minute penalty for charging and a game misconduct.

“I was shocked,” said Foligno. “I’m not even trying to hit him, I’m trying to poke check the puck and I notice at that time we’re going to collide, so I just brace myself and he almost runs into me.”

MacLean was careful in his comments about the call, but said, “I thought he was showing respect for the player because he was stopping. I thought the other guy basically ran into him.”

GAME FILE

Why They Won: They caught the final lucky break in a game which went from tight-checking to wide open in the late stages. Bobby Butler’s shot – or was it a pass? — bounced off the skate of Brian Campbell past Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen.

Stud: Daniel Alfredsson, Senators. Alfredsson scored the 399th goal of his career and added two assists, making it difficult – if not impossible – for coach Paul MacLean to take him off a top line alongside centre Jason Spezza.

Dud: Scott Clemmensen, Panthers. Butler’s game winning goal was a tough break, but Clemmensen was fighting the puck throughout the third period. Karlsson’s point shot beat him clean and he misplayed the puck behind the net on Alfredsson’s power play goal.

GOOD-BYE, GOOD RIDDANCE?: Immediately after Thursday’s game, Scotiabank Place workers went to work taking down the outdated old video scoreboard. There will be action in the building throughout the holiday weekend as the flashy new board will be up and running for Tuesday’s visit by the Montreal Canadiens.

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