Whether you watched Billy Joel belt out "Piano Man" at the BB&T Center or simply stayed home to follow the Florida Panthers defeat of the Dallas Stars, there really was no wrong way to ring in the New Year this past weekend.
"As coaches, we're thrilled for the players," interim head coach Tom Rowe said after Saturday's 3-1 victory in Dallas. "They've gone through a lot. We wanted them to change a few things and they've stuck with it and they got rewarded tonight."
The Panthers (16-14-8) continue a stretch of eight out of nine at home with a three-game homestand against the Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins at the BB&T Center this week.
After earning a victory in their final game of 2016, the Panthers enter the New Year just four points out of a playoff spot with 44 games left to play in the 2016-17 season.
"You keep getting points every night and you keep yourself in the race," said goaltender James Reimer, who stopped 35 of 36 shots to lead the Panthers to victory against Dallas. "When we put a game together like this, it's nice and you can keep climbing.
"As frustrating as it was the last little bit, at the same time we were getting points. You look back and it's positives. It's positives and positives. You just try and stay up."
Here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…
Wednesday: Winnipeg Jets, 7:00 p.m.
The Panthers will look to start off the New Year on the right foot when the Jets (17-19-3) visit the BB&T Center on Wednesday. The Jets, who defeated the Panthers 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 15, have allowed 11 goals over their last two games, including a 6-2 loss to the New York Islanders on New Year's Eve. In this contest, look for Jussi Jokinen to take advantage of Winnipeg's 26th-ranked defense, as the 33-year-old forward has notched 27 points (11-16-27) in 32 career games against the Jets.
Panthers vs. Jets this season: 0-0-1
Radio: English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward); 760 WEFL (Palm Beaches)
Friday: Nashville Predators, 7:30 p.m.
It'll be a meeting of fierce feline mascots when the Predators (16-14-6) battle the Panthers the BB&T Center on Friday. The Panthers, who owned a 1-1-0 record against the Predators last season, will likely look to do some damage on the power play in this contest, as Nashville currently owns the league's 16th-ranked penalty kill (81.3 percent). With that in mind, look for Keith Yandle to do some damage when the extra attacker is out on the ice, as the 30-year-old defenseman currently leads the Panthers with nine points (2-7-9) on the power play.
Panthers vs. Predators this season: 0-0-0
Radio: English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 850 WFTL (Palm Beaches); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward); 760 WEFL (Palm Beaches)
Saturday: Boston Bruins, 7:00 p.m.
The Panthers will have a chance to gain some ground in the Atlantic Division when the Bruins (20-15-4) visit the BB&T Center on Friday. The Bruins, who currently lead the Panthers by four points for third place in the division, have been playing much better on offense as of late, scoring three-or-more goals in four of their last five games. That being said, look for either Roberto Luongo or James Reimer to have a good night in net in this contest, as both goaltenders possess a career save percentage of .925-or-better against the Bruins.
Panthers vs. Bruins this season 0-2-1
English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward); 760 WEFL (Palm Beaches)
- Panthers forward Shawn Thornton is one point shy of 100 for his career.
- Panthers forward Jussi Jokinen is two assists shy of 350 for his career.
- Panthers forward Reilly Smith is two assists shy of 100 for his career.
- Panthers goaltender James Reimer is four wins shy of 100 for his career.
- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo needs one victory to surpass Terry Sawchuk for sole possession of fifth-place on the NHL's all-time wins list.
- Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr needs one assists to surpass Paul Coffey for sole possession of fourth place on the NHL's all-time assists list.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"He's just timeless. He's a freak of nature in this business. To be competing the way he is at this age is incredible." - Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff on Jaromir Jagr.
"A lot of games when we lost in overtime or shootouts, you know we had the lead going into the third period. And tonight it's kind of like first time after a while we kept the lead. It wasn't very pretty, but we kept the lead." - Jaromir Jagr on Saturday's win in Dallas.
"I left out a few juicy rebounds sometimes and (my teammates) were all over it. I think they played phenomenal. You don't win a game without your D-men and your teammates." - James Reimer on the play of Florida's defense in Saturday's victory in Dallas.
In honor of his latest milestone, the Panthers will be hosting a special "Jaromir Jagr Night" on Friday, Jan. 6 vs. Nashville Predators. The game will have Jagr-themed game presentation elements and the first 10,000 fans through the doors of the BB&T Center will receive a commemorative Jagr T-shirt.
"It will be an exciting evening for our fans at the BB&T Center as we all come together to celebrate Jaromir and his contributions to the sport of hockey," said Panthers Executive Chairman Peter Luukko.
Ticket offers for the evening are themed around Jagr's 1,888th point and jersey number. Offers include an $18.88 upper goal zone offer and a $68.00 sideline and sideline premier offer that includes a $15 food and beverage credit.
The Jagr ticket offers can be purchased by clicking here.
Whether it's a family outing or a night out with your best friends, the Sahlen's Value Pack is a great way to make sure that you don't miss any of the action at the BB&T Center in January.
The Value Pack features four tickets, one parking pass and Flex Bucks, which can be used to purchase Panthers merchandise in Pantherland or food and beverages at Coca-Cola Stands while you are at the game.
The available Value Pack options are as follows:
•The Lower End Package includes seats in the Lower Bowl and $60 in Flex Bucks to share amongst your group.
•The Club End Package includes $50 in Flex Bucks to share amongst your group.
•The Upper End Package includes seats in the Upper Bowl and $40 in Flex Bucks.
One-fourth of the bucks for each package will be pre-loaded on to each ticket. For example, the Lower End Package would come with $15 loaded on to each ticket. Multiple tickets can be used towards a transaction.
Value Pack tickets can be purchased by clicking here.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- Join us as we take a look back at everything that easily made this past year one of the most memorable in franchise history with our top-10 Panthers moments of 2016.
-- In the latest installment of his monthly mailbag, Panthers rookie defenseman Mike Matheson talks about earning an assist on Jaromir Jagr's historic point, Florida's defensive core, and much, much more.
"I've watched Jagr my whole life, but I wasn't really thinking about the historical aspect of everything until after the game," Matheson writes. "I was just so in the moment and enjoying watching the celebration. I mean, to see a whole NHL game come to a halt for something so special was really cool to be a part of."
-- The Panthers recently recalled forward Greg McKegg from Springfield (AHL).