SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) Anthony Stolarz skated out of his net, controlled a loose puck and set up the opening goal of the night for Florida.

And then he turned that goal into the eventual game-winner.

Stolarz stopped 25 shots and got his second assist of the season, Anton Lundell and Nick Cousins scored, and the Florida Panthers shut out the Ottawa Senators for the third time with a 2-0 victory on Tuesday night.

“I'd like to add a goal to that, but I think at the end of the day the shutouts are the most important thing,” Stolarz said.

It was the second instance of Florida shutting out a team three times in one season, the other coming when the Panthers blanked Montreal three times in 2017-18. And it was a needed win for playoff-bound Florida, with the Panthers winning for just the fourth time in their last 13 games (4-7-2).

“I'd take 2-0 over 7-6 all day long,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.

The Panthers (49-24-6) pushed their point total to 104, now three points back of Boston for the Atlantic Division lead and three points ahead of Toronto in the race for the division’s No. 2 spot.

All three of the Atlantic’s top teams played Tuesday; the Bruins lost 4-1 at Carolina and have 107 points, while Toronto beat New Jersey 4-2. The Maple Leafs have 101 points and four games remaining, one more than Florida - and those two clubs end the regular season against one another in a possible first-round playoff preview.

“All we can do now is prepare the right way,” Florida forward Sam Bennett said.

Joonas Korpisalo stopped 28 shots for Ottawa, which has four games left and will miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The Senators were 0-3-1 against Florida this season, getting outscored 16-2 in those contests.

“I thought it was a hard-fought game,” Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said. “There wasn’t a lot of time and space out there. We made a couple of mistakes that cost us goals in the first period. We had a few chances, they made some big saves, and that was pretty much the summary of the game.”

The Panthers opened a four-game homestand that’ll end the regular season and wasted little time taking control, with Lundell getting a power-play goal for his 12th of the season and Cousins netting his seventh of the season just 2:46 apart in the opening period.

Stolarz got his fourth career assist when he skated out of his net to control a long clear by the Senators. He sent the puck back across center ice to Lundell, who skated in alone and beat Korpisalo to open the scoring.

“We haven't seen that pass from even our own (defensemen) this season,” Lundell said. “That was a real pass.”

It was the ninth time a Florida goalie got an assist while recording a shutout. Stolarz joined Tomas Vokoun, Trevor Kidd, John Vanbiesbrouck and James Reimer as goalies who pulled off that feat for the Panthers. The only other time it happened this season, according to SportRadar, was April 2 when Boston's Linus Ullmark did it against Nashville.


Senators: Visit Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Panthers: Host Columbus on Thursday.



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