OTTAWA – This is exactly what the Ottawa Senators had in mind when they acquired Kyle Turris.
The 22-year-old centre scored twice Monday as the Senators shut out the Florida Panthers 4-0 in their home opener of the lockout-shortened season.
Turris, who also scored in Saturday’s curtain raiser on the road against the Winnipeg Jets, was obtained in a trade with Phoenix last season in hopes he could provide some scoring punch to Ottawa’s second line.
He has done that and much in the early going of the abbreviated campaign as Ottawa improved to 2-0-0 for the first time since 2007-08, when the club started 13-1-0 out of the gate.
“I feel pretty good,” said Turris, who stayed in Ottawa to train this past summer before playing some games in Europe during the lockout. “I feel like I have a lot of energy and good jump and just want to keep it going.”
The Senators also got an outstanding performance from Craig Anderson, who made 31 saves for his 20th career shutout.
Jim O’Brien and Jakob Silfverberg, with his first NHL goal, also scored for the Senators.
Jose Theodore was strong in defeat for the Panthers (1-1-0), finishing with 33 stops.
Ottawa opened the scoring with a power-play goal midway through the first as rookie defenceman Patrick Wiercioch showed some patience before finding Turris, who beat Theodore with a quick one-timer down low.
Wiercioch and Turris are childhood friends and the goal is one the two will remember for a long time.
“That was pretty special, really neat,” said Turris. “That’s the kind of stuff we did in junior hockey. We laughed about it when we got back in the room after the first intermission.”
Turris gave the Senators a 2-0 lead at the 12-minute mark of the second on a great pass from Guillaume Latendresse. Turris skated across centre and fed the puck to Latendresse at the blue-line, who waited just long enough to find Turris right in front of Theodore’s crease.
The Panthers struggled to create much of anything offensively and Anderson, who is showing no signs of post-lockout rust, easily handled what few chances they did have. The Senators goalie was at his best in the third as the Panthers outshot Ottawa 15-11.
“Our guys did a great job allowing me to see the puck and finding rebounds and just doing the little things that count,” said Anderson, who also got the start in Winnipeg over the weekend.
Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen felt his team earned their fate with the effort they put forth.
“We were sloppy and just didn’t play a good game,” said Dineen. “We haven’t had good success in this building for whatever reason. This has not been a good place for us and (Monday) was certainly right up there in the ugly ones.”
With just over two minutes remaining in the third, O’Brien broke through two Panthers and beat Theodore through the five-hole to put the game out of reach. Silfverberg then took a pass from Jason Spezza to pick up his first NHL goal just over a minute later to round out the scoring.
“It’s always nice to score goals and to score your first NHL goal is a pretty big thing,” said Silfverberg. “I’m very happy about that so now I just have to keep going and hopefully there’s more to come.”
Both teams were slow off the start, but the intensity picked up throughout the game as they fed off the energy of the sellout crowd of 19,952 at Scotiabank Place.
The loudest cheer in the pre-game introductions was for Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, while Ottawa native Marc Methot, making his home debut, was a close second.
“It felt awesome,” said Methot. “It was the start we wanted and on a personal note I felt pretty good and the jitters were out of the way early. My goal was just to play safe and not make too many mistakes and it turned out to be a pretty good game for myself so I felt pretty good.”
Monday’s game also marked the return of former Senators Filip Kuba and Alex Kovalev. Kovalev failed to meet expectations during his two years in Ottawa and fans welcomed him back of boos every time he touched the puck.
“It’s great to get recognition,” said Kovalev with a smile. “It means they still remember me.”
Notes: The two teams meet again Thursday in Sunrise, Fla. …G Ben Bishop, LW Kaspars Daugavins and D Mark Borowiecki were healthy scratches for the Senators. Ottawa was also without D Jared Cowen (hip, out for season) and D Mike Lundin (finger, two weeks). … D Tyson Strachan, D Michael Caruso and C Drew Shore were healthy scratches for the Panthers. … Florida was also without D Mike Weaver (concussion, out indefinitely), RW Kris Versteeg (hip surgery, indefinitely), D Erik Gudbranson (undisclosed), C Marcel Goc (undisclosed) and LW Sean Bergenheim (undisclosed). … Canada’s women’s hockey team took in the game as they prepare for the upcoming world championships in Ottawa in April.