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Panthers' team effort key to 12-game winning streak

by Brian Compton

More than four weeks have passed since the Florida Panthers skated off with a loss. Twelve games, 12 victories, and a five-point lead atop the Atlantic Division.

The Panthers will go for their 13th consecutive win when they visit the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday (10 p.m. ET; FS-F, SNP). Their streak is tied for the 10th-longest in NHL history and the longest of any team that failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs the previous season, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's all about team," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Any team in the National Hockey League, they're going to defend their teammates and that's why we're winning some hockey games. We've got a good team. We've got a good group of guys."

Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr scored Sunday; the 43-year-old has a four goals and one assist during a four-game point streak and leads the Panthers with 15 goals and 31 points this season.

The 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins hold the NHL record with 17 straight victories. Jagr was a member of that team too.

Here are other games that should garner plenty of attention:

Monday, Jan. 11: Detroit Red Wings at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, FS-D, FS-W) -- It's been a perfect road trip for the Red Wings thus far; they're 4-for-4 following a 2-1 win at the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard seeks his first win since Dec. 3.

Tuesday, Jan. 12: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, FS-TN, CSN-CH) -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is going for his 782nd NHL victory, which would tie him with Al Arbour for the second-most in NHL history. The Blackhawks are on a season-high seven-game winning streak. They are 24-3-2 when scoring first.

Thursday, Jan. 14: New York Rangers at New York Islanders (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, MSG, MSG+) -- One of the fiercest rivalries in the NHL resumes at Barclays Center. The Islanders won the first game this season between the teams, an electric 2-1 shootout victory Dec. 2.

Saturday, Jan. 16: Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN) -- It's the latest edition of the "Battle of Alberta" at Rexall Place. The Flames have won two of three against the Oilers this season; the winning team has scored five goals each time.

Sunday, Jan. 17: Los Angeles Kings at Anaheim Ducks (9 p.m. ET; FS-W, PRIME, FS-SD) -- Fans in Southern California are treated to the "Freeway Faceoff" for the first time this season. The Kings sit atop the Pacific Division and are 6-1-1 in their past eight games; the Ducks will be playing the seventh of an eight-game homestand.


Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals -- Holtby is the fourth goalie in the past 20 seasons with at least one point for his team in as many as 21 consecutive decisions (19-0-2), joining Chris Osgood (1995-96, 19-0-2), Jose Theodore (2009-10, 20-0-3) and Roberto Luongo (2010-11, 16-0-5). Theodore also did it for the Capitals. Holtby's streak was 5.7 seconds away from ending Saturday but Nicklas Backstrom scored and the Capitals went on to defeat the Rangers in overtime.

"The only statistic I really care about is wins, so it is nice," Holtby said. "It shows our team is doing the right things. But as a goalie you can't go on that streak without a team that's bailing you out."

Tobias Rieder, RW, Arizona Coyotes -- Rieder has played a huge role in the Coyotes' three-game winning streak. He had two goals and an assist in a 4-0 victory against Nashville on Saturday and has five points in the past three games.

"We're playing pretty well and the way we're supposed to play," said Rieder, who has three multiple-point games in the past six. "We are a fast, hard-working, hard-forechecking team and we're doing a pretty good job of that right now."

Patrick Sharp, Dallas Stars -- Sharp extended his point streak to 12 games in a 2-1 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. He has six goals and nine assists during that stretch.

"Just fitting in with the guys," Sharp told the Stars website. "I'm getting more comfortable playing with different players, learning tendencies. We have a good power play. We've got guys that can score goals. It's just one of those runs."


Tomas Hertl, C, San Jose Sharks -- On the same day Sharks coach Peter DeBoer moved Hertl from third-line center to top-line left wing, Hertl repaid his coach with two goals and an assist in a 7-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Hertl skated with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton.

"It was a great game for everybody," Hertl said. "I'm so happy we scored on our line with [Thornton and Pavelski]. It was so fun [Saturday]. I thank those guys for helping me."

John Tavares, C, New York Islanders -- Hoping to ignite a spark during a 4-0 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, Islanders coach Jack Capuano placed Nikolay Kulemin and Kyle Okposo with Tavares at the start of the third period. Whether those three will be together when the Islanders host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday remains to be seen.

"The last two games it's been really disappointing the way we've started and a lot of that's my fault," Tavares told Newsday. "Being the leader of the team I've got to make sure we're ready to play and I've got to be better as well. A lot of that blame falls on my shoulders. Putting ourselves behind by two goals, it takes a lot of energy to work to get back into games and we didn't have it [Saturday]."


Shortly after acquiring forward Emerson Etem from the Rangers, the Canucks announced they've placed forward Chris Higgins on the trade block. Higgins, 32, has two goals and one assist in 25 games. "It's a tough day for our organization," coach Willie Desjardins told the Canucks website. "Chris has been a great part of this organization and he's a first-class individual." … The Pittsburgh Penguins are back in the thick of the Stanley Cup Playoff race; they are 5-2-2 since losing their first four games in regulation under coach Mike Sullivan. They enter the week two points behind the New Jersey Devils for the final wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference. "Every game in this League is a hard game and it's important for us to get results with each game that goes by," Sullivan said. "We had this conversation with our guys this week, but with each game that goes by it gets harder and harder to get points. We certainly want to get results. We're focused on the process but results are important and they're important for a lot of reasons. I think most importantly it helps to reinforce the belief that we're playing the way we need to play in order to win." … Oilers coach Todd McLellan said Saturday that center Connor McDavid, out since sustaining a fractured left clavicle Nov. 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers, will not return before the All-Star break. "You want to play as soon as possible. But at the end of the day you've got to play when it's safe," McDavid said. "It's a little bit frustrating when you feel good and you want to play. But like I keep saying, it's for the best and it'll just give me extra time to heal."


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