OTTAWA -- Deciding which player most deserved the Kevin Spacey sweatshirt was an easy call for the surging Florida Panthers on Thursday.
"Guys work hard every game because everybody wants this bad boy," Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo said, proudly while wearing the pullover featuring the actor's face, floating in space, that is handed out to the team's best player each night. "Once you've worn it, you don't want to let it go."
Luongo turned in a brilliant 30-save performance as the Panthers won their 11th game in a row, defeating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 at Canadian Tire Centre.
Florida's winning streak is the longest in the NHL since the Boston Bruins won 12 in a row during the 2013-14 season.
"I don't think by any means that was our best game. It was probably one of our worst in the last 11, but for some reason or another right now we're finding ways to win games, so it's nice. We'll take them. We're not always going to be playing 100 percent. Sometimes we'll be off a little bit, but if we can still find ways to win it's always a bonus for our team."
Winger Reilly Smith and centers Vincent Trocheck and Aleksander Barkov scored for Florida. Senators winger Max McCormick notched his first NHL goal, while winger Milan Michalek had the other.
Luongo's biggest saves came off center Kyle Turris, whom he stopped a total of six times, including dandies in the first and second period. Lounge also came up large against center Mika Zibanejad in the third.
"They had a lot more chances," said Panthers right winger Jaromir Jagr, whose team managed just 16 shots on Senators goalie Craig Anderson. "Lou was excellent. That's why he's an all-star, man. Lou saved our game today. I want to say thanks to Lou for this one. We didn't play our best, but we found a way to win."
The Senators, who have allowed a league high 33.3 shots per game, were up 4-0 on the shots clocks until the 12 minute mark. Moments after Luongo made a big left pad save off Turris, Smith fired a shot through defenseman Patrick Wiercioch's legs and over Anderson's catching glove for his 12th of the season.
Trocheck scored from the slot eight seconds later, on Florida's second shot, after Smith separated the puck from Senators defenseman Fredrik Claesson.
It was the fastest two goals allowed by Ottawa in team history.
"We were really good tonight," said Anderson, whose team failed to put together a two-game winning streak for the first time since Dec. 3-5. "We definitely blocked a lot of shots, we snuffed out a lot of plays, and we played in the offensive zone, which was outstanding to see. It's unfortunate we came up short."
"For me, it's a tough one to swallow, just because we put ourselves behind the 8-ball 2-0 there, when we were playing pretty good hockey. That one's on me. It's frustrating to see us play well like that, from my standpoint, and not get rewarded for it. I'll take responsibility. I didn't make a big save for the guys when they needed it."
McCormick put the Senators on the board with a shot from the slot that went in off Luongo's right post at 5:38 of the second period. The teams went more than 20 minutes without scoring until Barkov restored Florida's two goal lead at 7:30 of the third. The goal was set up by Jagr, who centered a pass that rolled off the stick of Claesson to Barkov, who flipped a shot over Anderson.
The Senators fought back with a goal by Michalek, who deflected a shot by defensemen Erik Karlsson past Luongo at the 9:54 mark, but that's as close as Ottawa would get.
"We were getting quality opportunities and I didn't bury mine. It could have changed the game," said Turris. "I'll give the goalie credit, but at the same time I've got to be better too."
Luongo thinks he might be playing the best hockey of his career, but for that he credits his teammates. Florida has given up just eight goals in its last seven games and 14 during its streak.
"The guys in front of me are playing so well defensively," said Luongo. "It goes hand in hand. When they play well in front of me, it makes my job easier, makes me play well and maybe they feed off of that. That's what a team is all about. Everybody has to contribute in their own way and right now our guys are doing that. On different nights, guys are stepping up."
While cutting down on shots of late, the Senators have won just once in their last five games.
"It's funny how that works, when you start playing better and things start turning around in terms of how the team's playing, and things just aren't going your way," said Turris. "We've just got to realize it's going to come. We're going to start getting bounces, and scoring goals. We've just got to stick with what we're doing."
NOTES: Senators F Alex Chiasson was a healthy scratch for the first time his season, as coach Dave Cameron made room for the return of F Milan Michalek, who missed 16 games with a broken finger. ... Senators D Cody Ceci returned after missing six games with a rib injury. He took a lineup spot from D Chris Wideman, who had made 25 consecutive starts. ... Senators D Jared Cowen was scratched for the fourth consecutive game. ... Panthers F Shawn Thornton returned to the lineup after being a scratch in the last two games and three of the last four. He replaced C Quinton Howden, who has three goals and four assists in 34 games.