Panthers hope to build momentum in Ottawa

( - The Florida Panthers aim to clinch a winning record on their four-game road trip Saturday night as they visit the Ottawa Senators.

The Panthers have won the first two tests of the swing, on the heels of a three-game slide, and defeated the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout on Thursday.

Max Pacioretty scored for the Canadiens on a quick shot to start the second round, but Nick Bjugstad kept Florida alive as he cut across the slot and wristed a shot over Carey Price's glove. After Roberto Luongo absorbed Andrei Markov's shot to open the sixth round, Dave Bolland put an end to the game with a low shot through the pads of Price.

Tomas Fleischmann tallied a goal and an assist, Steven Kampfer also scored and Luongo made 37 saves for the Panthers, who pulled within a point of the Boston Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

"There's a lot of work to be done. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves," said Luongo, who has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his past seven starts. "We realize we're in the thick of things, which is exciting and fun for our group.

"It sounds cliche, but we really have to take it one game at a time. We can't get too high after a big win or too low after a loss. Obviously it was a big game for us."

The Panthers, who end their road trip on Sunday versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, have won three of their last four meetings with the Senators. They also snapped a seven-game slide as the road team in this series in their last trip to Ottawa on Dec. 19, 2013.

The Senators have been idle since their own recent win over the Canadiens, which came by a 4-2 decision on Wednesday. Andrew Hammond picked up the victory in his first NHL start and third career game, posting 42 saves.

Hammond stopped all 13 shots he faced in the first period to settle into the game as Ottawa improved to 2-1-1 on its five-game homestand.

"Once the puck dropped, I felt really comfortable," said Hammond. "Every shot that came my way, I felt like I settled in even more."

Hammond was forced into a starting situation after goaltender Robin Lehner was hurt in a scary collision with teammate Clarke MacArthur on Monday versus Carolina. Both players are out with concussions.

No. 1 netminder Craig Anderson, meanwhile, hasn't played since Jan. 21 due to a bruised hand.

Hammond got plenty of support versus the Canadiens as Mark Stone had a goal and two assists. Milan Michalek, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Kyle Turris all added goals, while captain Erik Karlsson notched his fourth straight two-assist game.

The Senators begin a five-game road trip on Wednesday in Anaheim.