SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators put together a strong defensive performance on the road - even if hardly anyone was there to see it.
Anderson made 30 saves, Clarke MacArthur scored a power-play goal and Ottawa beat winless Florida 1-0 Monday night in front of the smallest crowd in Panthers history.
MacArthur raced up the middle of the ice past two Florida defenders and sent a backhander past Roberto Luongo at 15:34 of the second period for Ottawa’s second power-play goal in 14 opportunities this season.
It was the first goal this season for MacArthur, who was assisted by Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson.
“Turry made a great play and gave me the breakaway,” MacArthur said. “It’s a tough little pass to make and I was able to open him up and get him through. It was nice to get one.”
That lone goal was enough for Anderson, who earned his 27th career shutout to help the Senators finish 2-1 on their season-opening road trip.
“We played composed, we played solid, we played patient,” said Anderson, who improved to 11-2-1 against his former team. “We didn’t force plays. Our breakout passes were tape to tape.”
Ottawa coach Paul MacLean was pleased with his club’s effort, especially considering it has yet to hit home ice at the Canadian Tire Centre.
“I thought it was a good game to give us some momentum going home,” MacLean said. “All in all, it was a good, solid effort by our group and something that we can build on.”
The announced crowd of 7,311 - it appeared much smaller - in Florida’s second home game of the season broke the previous franchise low of 10,063 against Carolina on Oct. 31, 2007.
Attendance has dwindled in recent years as the Panthers have struggled on the ice. In 2010, the team reduced seating capacity for hockey from 19,250 to 17,040 with many top rows covered. This season, curtains were added to the west end zone in the upper deck to further reduce capacity by several thousand.
“I don’t pay attention when I’m playing,” Luongo said when asked about the lack of fan support. “I focus on my job. If we want to get some people in the stands we have to start winning some hockey games.”
Anderson, a backup with the Panthers for several seasons, knows what it will take for attendance figures to improve.
“This city seems to need wins, whether it’s football, baseball, basketball. You need to win games to get fans in the building,” Anderson said. “It’s a matter of them putting some wins together and getting the fan base to come back.”
Florida has yet to win a game this season, including the preseason. The team has managed one point in three games, with that coming in a 3-2 overtime setback at Tampa Bay on opening night.
Luongo, who turned back 22 shots, took his first loss in his past 10 games against Ottawa. He was last beaten by the Senators on Dec. 5, 2005.
“The boys battled hard tonight,” Luongo said. “I think we’re getting better as the games go by. Just want to get that first one out of the way.”
Florida (0-2-1) has scored only three goals this season. The Panthers lost 5-1 to New Jersey on Saturday.
The Panthers had their best scoring chance late in the first period when Brad Boyes raced in alone against Anderson but lost control of the puck.
Florida coach Gerard Gallant is still looking for his first win in his first season with the Panthers.
“We played a good, hard game, lots of good scoring opportunities, but a 1-0 game is a tough game to lose,” he said. “When (Anderson) plays well and you’ve got no luck, things don’t go in the net … you just have to keep grinding it out.”
NOTES: The Panthers are off to their worst start in seven years. Florida last opened a season with three consecutive losses in 2007-08. … Florida has allowed six power-play goals on 18 short-handed situations. … Karlsson got his third assist to go with four goals in nine games at Florida.
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