TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
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OTTAWA — Once again creeping close to a playoff spot, the Florida Panthers simply cannot afford to lose another game to the Ottawa Senators.
To that end, the Panthers are expected to go with backup James Reimer in goal when the teams meet Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
Reimer was on the bench watching Roberto Luongo post his 76th career shutout in Montreal against the Canadiens on Monday, just as he was when the Panthers fumbled away two points in Florida when the Senators visited March 12 and walked away with a 5-3 victory.
The Panthers, who are now three points back of the New Jersey Devils for the wild-card spot with two games in hand, are unlikely to go with the 38-year old Luongo in back-to-back games even if the Senators had not lit him up for five goals on 20 shots a week ago.
Luongo made 28 saves to tie Tony Esposito and Ed Belfour on the career shutout list in Montreal.
“The focus, for me, isn’t on reminiscing,” Luongo told reporters when asked about his place in history. “It’s about what’s ahead of us right now and winning hockey games.”
Reimer, who had plenty of success at Canadian Tire Center when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has a 12-5-2 lifetime against the Senators, including a 2.45 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.
His last game was a 46-save shutout over the Boston Bruins on March 15.
The Panthers needed 40 shots to put two past Canadiens backup Antti Niemi on Monday.
“It was nice to see the guys stick with it and generating chances,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner told reporters. “It was a big win.”
Ottawa had a three-game winning streak stopped in a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
The Senators believe they literally dodged a bullet when 20-goal scoring winger Ryan Dzingel survived taking a shot from linemate Mike Hoffman in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Columbus without suffering a concussion.
Dzingel will be held out of Tuesday’s game nonetheless.
“It’s Hoffman’s shot, it’s a bullet,” coach Guy Boucher told reporters on Monday. “With the protection he had there, he was lucky, because if it was lower it probably would have been right in the middle of the neck and that wouldn’t have been a good place.
“That’s hockey. It happens and you hope it doesn’t, but over the course of an entire year, there’s definitely moments where you’re scared, and that was one of them.”
The Senators recalled Filip Chlapik from their farm team in Belleville to take Dzingel’s roster spot, but veteran Zack Smith is slated to step into his job on the team’s top line with Hoffman and Matt Duchene.
Craig Anderson is expected to tend goal for the Senators against the Panthers. In 25 career games versus Florida, Anderson has a 15-7-2 record with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.