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Game Preview: Blue Jackets look to halt Panthers' hot streak

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Florida Panthers (12-9-4) are currently riding their first four-game winning streak in nine months and sit fifth place in the Atlantic Division.

In the Panthers' most recent match-up against the St. Louis Blues, Brandon Pirri opened the scoring for Florida at 12:18 in the second period, and 13 seconds later, center Derek MacKenzie added on. St. Louis’ lone goal came from David Backes 21 seconds later, but MacKenzie notched another one to help the Panthers secure a 3-1 road win.

The Panthers’ No. 1 goaltender, Robert Luongo, has been excellent for Florida so far this season with a .926 save percentage, and has given up just four goals on 84 shots in the past three games.

The Panthers play the third game of a five-game road trip Thursday night in Nashville against the Predators. They will travel to Columbus after the game and gear up to face the Blue Jackets in a Friday night match-up at Nationwide Arena.

The last time these two teams played was on Jan. 29, 2015 at BB&T Center when the Blue Jackets dropped their first game to the Panthers in Sunrise since 2004.

Missed opportunities and costly mistakes led to a 3-2 defeat, with the two Jackets goals coming from Jack Johnson and Alexander Wennberg. Curtis McElhinney made 28 saves in between the pipes for Columbus and, as a result, was named the third star of the game.

The Blue Jackets are 13-5-0 in the all-time series against the Panthers and 10-1-0 in the last 11 games. Friday's game is the first of three match-ups this season.

NHL veteran Jaromir Jagr seems to defy the odds and, like fine wine, keeps getting better with age. The 43-year-old is in the midst of his second season with the Panthers, and currently leads the team in points with 18 (8 G, 10 A).

A native of the Czech Republic, Jagr was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1990 NHL Draft. He has spent 25 NHL seasons with eight different teams, and has received league-wide recognition for his skill and on-ice achievements.

Jagr has won the Art Ross Trophy five times, the Hart Memorial Trophy once, Ted Lindsay Award three times and has been a Stanley Cup champion twice.

In 1,572 NHL games played, he’s scored 730 goals and added 1,090 assists for 1,820 points. If Jagr remains the team’s leading scorer at the end of the season, he will break his own record of being the oldest player to lead a team in scoring in NHL history.

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