The Ottawa Senators hope a trip to the Sunshine State and the return of a key defenseman will help them bounce back from a late-game collapse as they play the Florida Panthers on Wednesday.
The Senators (5-2-2), who also play at Tampa Bay on Thursday, are expected to have Filip Kuba in the lineup for the first time since their season-opening 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers. Kuba, who was sidelined with a lower-body injury, is expected to bring some jump to an Ottawa power play ranked near the bottom of the NHL at 10.3 percent (4 for 39).
"He'll make a big improvement, just as far as poise, confidence and experience back there," coach Cory Clouston told the Senators' official Web site. "(Kuba) doesn't have a booming shot, but he's able to get the shot through for the most part. Just to be able to calm things down back there... I think he'll be important for that."
Kuba's influence on both sides of the ice was sorely missed in Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss to Boston, with Ottawa squandering a two-goal lead in the final 1:28 of regulation. Daniel Alfredsson netted the team's fourth short-handed goal of the season, but the Senators captain lamented settling for one point and giving up two to a division rival.
"They had no business winning that game," Alfredsson said after the team picked up at least one point for the fourth straight game (2-0-2). "They get one goal and then get a little bit lucky. We failed to clear and (Anton) Volchenkov loses his stick and they score."
Milan Michalek has scored all of his team-high six goals in the last five games and has tallied in each of the previous two.
While the Senators get a key player back, the Panthers (2-6-1) must adjust to playing without two of theirs. David Booth and Radek Dvorak are out indefinitely after getting hurt in a 5-1 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday as Florida dropped its third straight (0-2-1).
Booth suffered a concussion on a hit by Flyers center Mike Richards and left the game on a stretcher, while Dvorak hurt his knee.
"They're going to be missed," coach Peter DeBoer told the Panthers' official Web site. "They drive a lot of our offense on the forecheck. It's not something you replace easily, but we don't have a lot of choice."
The Panthers recalled Michal Repik and Kenndal McArdle from Rochester of the AHL to replace the two injured players. Repik, the team's second-round pick in 2007, had six goals and five assists in a strong start with the Amerks.
Florida has scored more than two goals in just two of its first nine games.
The Panthers won three of four meetings with Ottawa last season, but the Senators have won 12 of their last 15 at Florida.