SUNRISE, Fla. – Richard Zednik and Bryan McCabe scored power-play goals late in the second period and lifted the Florida Panthers to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.

Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss also scored for Florida, which won its third straight game. Michael Frolik added an empty-net goal with 1:32 left.

Chris Kelly and Chris Campoli both netted goals for Ottawa.

Craig Anderson, making his third straight start for Florida in place of Tomas Vokoun, stopped 30 shots.

The Panthers appeared to be fading from the Eastern Conference playoff picture earlier this month during a 1-4-3 skid. After a 5-3 loss to Buffalo on March 25, Florida coach Pete DeBoer replaced Vokoun with Anderson, who helped lead the Panthers to a 4-2 win in Philadelphia on Thursday and a 6-3 victory at Dallas on Saturday.

In his first career start against the Panthers, Ottawa rookie Brian Elliott made 17 saves before he was replaced by Alex Auld in the third period. Elliott earned his first NHL shutout when he made 20 saves in a 3-0 win at Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Although the Senators have been one of the league’s hottest teams of late, they entered Tuesday’s game in danger of being eliminated from playoff contention. They had won 10 of 13, but were in 11th place in the East. Ottawa, a Stanley Cup finalist in 2007, hasn’t missed the playoffs since the 1995-96 season.

The Panthers, meanwhile, entered play Tuesday ninth in the East. Florida, which hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2000, was one point behind Montreal. The Canadiens faced Chicago on Tuesday.

With Brendan Bell serving a double minor for high-sticking, Zednik scored with 2:42 left in the second period. He pushed the puck through Elliott’s pads to give Florida a 2-1 lead after Elliott stopped his initial shot from the side of the net. Then 1:06 later, McCabe’s slap shot from the high slot went off Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov and trickled into the net to make it 3-1. The goal came seconds after Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson’s shot went off the post.

Weiss put the Panthers up 4-1 at 2:02 in the third period when he deflected David Booth’s shot from the wing.

Campoli’s shot went off the leg of Florida defenseman Karlis Skrastins to make it 4-2 at 13:27 of the third period.

Horton, who returned to the lineup March 23 after missing six games with a finger laceration, opened the scoring at 4:35 in the second period. He converted a pass from Cory Stillman on a 2-on-1 for his 21st goal.

Kelly tied it at 1 with 7:36 left in the second period.

Notes: This marked the final meeting between Florida and Ottawa this season. The teams hadn’t faced off since Dec. 8, when Weiss’ overtime goal gave the Panthers a 4-3 road win. The visiting team had won all three previous games in the season series. … Scottie Pippen was among the 15,247 in attendance. … Ottawa will wrap up its six-game road trip at Boston on Thursday.

AP-ES-03-31-09 2207EDT

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