Florida Panthers at Ottawa Senators on Oct. 28, 2010

The Senators are looking to string together two wins for the first time this season, and achieving the feat would be a great momentum-builder with Ottawa-killer Tim Thomas and his Boston Bruins in town Saturday night.

Florida Panthers at Ottawa Senators on Oct. 28, 2010
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck 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 STORY: The Senators are looking to string together two wins for the first time this season, and achieving the feat would be a great momentum-builder with Ottawa-killer Tim Thomas and his Boston Bruins in town Saturday night. They’ll have to pull it off without centre Jason Spezza, who is expected to be out of the lineup again with a nagging groin injury.

THE SUBPLOTS: One of the reasons the Senators managed to take advantage of a tired Phoenix team was the sudden emergence of a whole bushel of struggling players. Alex Kovalev scored twice and added an assist. Nick Foligno had a helper and a near-tally, Peter Regin had two helpers and Erik Karlsson opened the scoring. Can they keep it up?

THE WILDCARD: Brian Elliott. The Panthers will struggle all season to put points on the board, but there’s no questioning the talent in net. If you give Tomas Vokoun the lead, it probably isn’t going anywhere. That’s why Brian Elliott needs to be sharp early and avoid giving up any softies. The Senators are undefeated when they score first this season and winless when they don’t.

THE OPPONENT: The departure of Nathan Horton during the offseason really hurt a team that was already thin on offence, but they’ve managed to win a few games by keeping it close. Interesting note though: While Ottawa has more talent on paper, they’ve actually averaged fewer goals this season (2.33 per game to Florida’s 2.57). The Senators shouldn’t take this one for granted.

THE QUOTE: “I think he has been playing well for a while actually, for the last couple of weeks and the thing is, now he scores a couple of goals and everybody thinks he’s good. One of them was a rebound, into an empty net, and the other one was maybe not the best. The goalie could have saved that. But now he has scored two goals and everybody is positive. That’s the way it works. He had a lot of chances in Buffalo and even against Montreal. He hit the crossbar once and, if he had scored there, (the media) would have been positive. Sometimes, it’s a tough business to be in and you get judged by the points and the goals you’re scoring, and that’s probably the case with him, I think.” — Regin sounding off on Kovalev’s night Tuesday.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — D Filip Kuba (broken leg, three weeks), G Pascal Leclaire (groin, indefinite), C Jason Spezza (groin, day-to-day). Panthers — W Byron Bitz (sports hernia surgery, indefinite), C Mark Cullen (achilles surgery, indefinite), C Shawn Matthias (foot, questionable).

THE PREDICTION: Like the Senators, my slow start could take me out of the running of our Senators prediction panel before Christmas. Why am I picking them to win tonight? Well, yesterday I went for lunch at Moxie’s in the Centrum and saw Tomas Vokoun and some teammates going in. It was cheap White Peach Bellini day so, you know, maybe they spent a beautiful afternoon on the patio and had a few too many. Hey, whatever man. My so-called ‘rational’ reasons for making picks this season obviously aren’t working (3-6 record). Ottawa 3, Florida 2.

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