NHL Hockey

Now with Panthers, Hoffman returns to Ottawa

OTTAWA -- Mike Hoffman will be red-hot when he makes his return to Ottawa, where he spent the first eight years of his career.

But his Florida Panthers aren't entering Monday's game.

Hoffman, who had more than 22 goals in each of his last four seasons with the Senators, was dealt away in the summer after his spouse became involved in a ugly rift with the wife of captain Erik Karlsson. Hoffman was also singled out by Senators GM Pierre Dorion as one of the reasons team dressing room was "broken".

After failing to pick up a point in his first two games with the Panthers, Hoffman is now riding a franchise record 15-game point scoring streak during with he has eight goals and 10 assists. Despite his efforts, the Panthers (7-7-3) continue to play below expectations and have lost their last two games.

"We're doing a lot of good things," defenseman Keith Yandle told the Miami Herald after Saturday's 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers, which saw the Panthers finish ahead 41-24 on the shots clock.

"If you're out-shooting teams, out-chancing teams, that's the first step," Hoffman told the Miami Herald. "The second is to clean up the (defensive zone) a little bit. Limit their chances and the quality of scoring chances we give up."

Hoffman had two assists when the Panthers beat the Senators 5-1 in Florida on Nov. 11. Before that game he made it clear he didn't want to get into the remarks made by Dorion or the incident with the Karlssons, and that is not likely to change when he arrives in Ottawa.

The Senators (9-8-3) have found a way to manufacture offense despite the loss of Hoffman and Karlsson. They are tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for second in the goals scored category with 70. They have won their last two games, including Saturday's 6-4 battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"We've been kind of at-.500, below-.500, at-.500, below-.500 for a while now, and to make that break through to get above, we can't take it for granted now," said Senators center Matt Duchene, who surpassed the 500-point mark in his career on Saturday with two goals and an assist. "We've got to keep pushing, Next game is a big one."

The Senators have had most of their success at home, where they are 7-3-2.

"We're playing well at home," Duchene said. "We obviously want to be a little better on the road, but the more we win here, the more fans we're going to get, and the better are atmosphere is going to be in here. Tonight was outstanding. Our fans really brought it tonight."

Rookies Brady Tkachuk, Colin White and now call up Drake Batherson are playing significant roles in a Senators rebuild that has gone better than expected. Second-year defenseman Thomas Chabot, who has 23 points in 20 games, has been very good in replacing Karlsson as the Senators back end leader.

"The guys are playing above and beyond their years," said Craig Anderson, who became the first goalie to top the 1000-minute mark on Saturday.

Updated November 18, 2018

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