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Senators Double Up Panthers

The Ottawa Senators took advantage of one struggling team to gain ground on another.

Vaclav Prospal scored the go-ahead goal as Ottawa beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 Monday, moving the Senators within a point of first-place Toronto in the Northeast Division.

"It was a great game for us today. We knew they were going to be ready for us," Prospal said. "It's a big difference for us. Now Toronto is giving us a chance to catch them because they've been losing so many games."

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  • The Panthers are 5-7 in their last 12 games, while Washington trails Florida by four points in the Southeast Division.

    "There's a lot of sawdust falling out of the sticks out there," Florida coach Terry Murray said. "They're really pressing."

    Marian Hossa, Jason York and Kevin Dineen also scored for the Senators, who ended a three-game road losing streak with their third victory over Florida.

    "It's a great feeling to beat them three times," Hossa said.

    Pavel Bure scored his league-leading 42nd goal for Florida. Jaroslav Spacek also scored for the Panthers.

    Though Florida played better than Saturday when it could muster only 22 shots in a 2-1 home loss to the Penguins, the Panthers still struggled in the offensive end. Murray has been critical of his team's penchant for what he terms the "cute play" instead of just shooting the puck.

    Prospal, who has six goals in his last seven games, broke a -2 tie with 5:58 left in the second period. Panthers goalie Mike Vernon looked like he made the save, but the puck slid out of his glove and trickled under him and across the goal line.

    "I tried to shoot it over (Robert) Svehla, I saw him and Spacek coming at me and it was two against one, so I used Robert as a screen," Prospal said. "I got lucky Mike tried to catch it in his glove and it went through his legs."

    Hossa added his 22nd goal at 7:31 of the third period, after Oleg Kvasha turned the puck over to Chris Phillips.

    The teams combined for four goals in a 2:20 stretch of the first period.

    Spacek opened the scoring with his second goal in as many games, beating goalie Ron Tugnutt at 9:18. York tied it 40 seconds later on a deflection off Panthers defenseman Bret Hedican.

    Bure put Florida back in front when he swatted the puck under Tugnutt's arm. Bure has 10 points in his last 11 games.

    But after Bure's score, Florida gave up three unanswered goals and another point in the standings.

    "When we start worrying about other teams that's when we run into problems," Florida's Lance Pitlick said. "We've got to worry about what's going on here. It's not going good right now and there's not a happy guy in this locker room. We should be ashamed of ourselves, how we've been playing."

    Dineen tied it with a goal that was awarded after a video review. It appeared Vernon had stopped Dineen's shot, but replay officials ruled that the puck crossed the line before Vernon nabbed it.

    "I was the most amazed guy in the building," Dineen said. "That he got across and made that save, but there's no doubt in my mind it was a goal. I saw it go across the line."

    Tugnutt made 30 saves, and Vernon stopped 26 shots.

    "I give a lot of credit to the rest of the guys, I thought they really competed hard, some people really raised their game and stepped up to the plate," Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said.

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