SUNRISE, Fla. – The Florida Panthers can’t get much to go their way these days. Even pucks off their own players’ skates.
Nick Foligno’s pass hit a Florida player’s skate and ricocheted into the net in the second period and Jarkko Ruutu scored 38 seconds later to help the Ottawa Senators beat the Panthers 4-3 on Wednesday night.
Mike Fisher and Daniel Alfredsson also scored, and denfenceman Filip Kuba added two assists after missing the previous eight games because of a lower-body injury.
Steve Reinprecht, Stephen Weiss and Bryan McCabe scored for Florida, which has lost four straight to drop to 2-7-1. Jordan Leopold and Nathan Horton each had two assists.
“When things are going bad, you never get the bounces,” said McCabe, whose skate was hit by Foligno’s pass.
Pascal Leclaire stopped nine shots for the Senators (6-2-2), but left after the first period due to illness. Brian Elliott finished the game, making 26 saves.
“Part way through the period during one of the TV timeouts (Leclaire) came over and said he was starting to feel dizzy,” Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. “He felt he would be good until the end of the period. He’s a gamer, he tried to stay in but by the end of the period it kept getting progressively worse.”
Florida had seven power plays, while Ottawa had only one.
“We didn’t play great today but penalty-killing and goaltending made the difference for us,” Alfredsson said.
McCabe scored on the power play at 3:51 in the third period to pull Florida within a goal. He beat Elliott with a slapshot from just inside the point, making it 4-3.
Foligno’s pass hit McCabe’s skate and deflected into the net to give the Senators a 3-2 lead with 2:47 left in the period. Ruutu then made it 4-2.
“I think when you’re on losing streaks, those bounces go against you and when you’re winning, you tend to get those things,” Florida coach Pete DeBoer said. “You like to hope that those bounces even out as the season goes on.”
Florida took a 2-1 lead at 1:47 in the second when Weiss tipped the puck in for his third goal of the season. But Alfredsson tied it 2-2 at 6:24 in the second when he put the puck through Tomas Vokoun’s pads.
The Panthers opened the scoring at 4:44 of the first period when Leopold pushed the puck toward the crease and Reinprecht redirected it into the net. Ottawa evened the score on Fisher’s power-play goal with 9:10 left in the opening period.
Florida was coming a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday night, a game that also cost the team Radek Dvorak and star left wing David Booth. Booth, who left on a stretcher, sustained a concussion when he was hit by Philadelphia centre Mike Richards. Dvorak injured his left knee.
“It’s frustrating, for sure, but that was by far our best effort for 60 minutes in a game this year,” McCabe said. “There’s a ton of positives to build on. I know the end result wasn’t what we wanted, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.”
NOTES: Panthers rookie D Dmitry Kulikov played in his 10th game of the season Wednesday, meaning he is officially in the first year of his entry-level NHL contract. Kulikov turns 19 on Thursday. … The Panthers won three of four games against the Senators last season, but Ottawa has won 12 of its last 15 games in Florida.