Sitting second in the Atlantic Division with a 13-8-2 record, Florida is 7-3-2 at home this season.
"When you look at the schedule at the beginning of the year, you look at it as an important part of our season," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "You can almost say that it's going to tell everything that's going to happen. One game at a time and doing things the right way is a great beginning. Let's try to progress off of this [win] and try to keep improving with every game."
Saturday's win over the Predators certainly showed a lot of progress.
Led by a huge 27-save performance from Chris Driedger, who shined in his first NHL start after just being recalled from the AHL on Monday, the Panthers posted one of their best-defensive efforts of the season against Nashville's high-flying offense, which currently ranks eighth in the league.
Of the 27 shots the Predators were able to get on net, only five came from high-danger areas.
"Honestly, I'm speechless at this point," said Driedger, who became the first Panthers netminder to ever record a shutout in the first start of their NHL career. "It's been a long time coming. They told me I was starting yesterday. I was definitely pretty nervous going into it, but once the puck dropped I kind of felt good. The defense did an incredible job tonight making my job easy."
Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said the win set the standard moving forward defensively.
"We've been talking a lot about the defensive zone and how to play it," Barkov said. "In this league, there's 30 other teams that can score and can play very well in your zone. We've got to do what we did today. We played really well in the defensive zone, and Chris was unbelievable."
Here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…
Tuesday: Minnesota Wild, 7:00 p.m.
The Panthers will look to keep building up their momentum when they welcome the Wild (12-11-4) to BB&T Center on Tuesday. Minnesota enters the week riding a three-game winning streak, including a 3-2 shootout win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday. Owning one of the best records in the league at home, the Wild have been far less successful on the road, where they've lost 12 of 17 games to start the season. Eric Staal leads the team in scoring with 19 points, including two goals and three assists over his last six games. Zach Parise, meanwhile, paces the club with 12 goals. For the Panthers, look for the captain to lead the charge on offense in this one. Ranking tied for first on the team in scoring with 31 points, Aleksander Barkov has been red hot in recent weeks, registering 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) over his last 14 games. Against Minnesota, the 24-year-old center has racked up 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 12 career contests.
Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)
In-Arena Activations: 50/50 Raffle; Holiday Ornaments for Sale at Foundation Table; Nacho Tot Tuesday
Saturday: Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:00 p.m.
After resting up for a few days, the Panthers kick off a back-to-back set when they host the Blue Jackets (11-11-4) on Saturday at BB&T Center. Columbus has won five of its last eight games, but is coming off a 2-0 loss at the New York Islanders on Saturday. In that defeat, they also lost one of their star defensemen, as Zach Werenski suffered an upper-body injury and is expected to be sidelined for the next four weeks. Prior to the injury, the 22-year-old blueliner ranked third on the team in scoring with 16 points. Ahead of him on that list, forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois and Gustav Nyquist each of 18 points, including a team-high 10 goals for Nyquist. One of only two teams in the league currently without a 20-point scorer on its roster, the Blue Jackets rank 29th in offense (2.54 goals per game). At the other end of the ice, look for Aaron Ekblad to provide some offense from the blue line for the Panthers. Ranking first among the club's defensemen in goals (5), the 23-year-old has accumulated five points (three goals, two assists) over his last five contests. In his career against Columbus, he has five goals and two assists in 14 games.
Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 850 WFTL (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)
In-Arena Activations: 50/50 Raffle with Guaranteed Pot of at Least $25,000; Territory Takeover (Boca Raton); Sip N' Stroll Artwalk
Sunday: San Jose Sharks, 5:00 p.m.
The Panthers will close out their lone back-to-back of the homestand when they host the upstart Sharks (15-12-1) at BB&T Center on Sunday. After dropping 11 of their first 15 games to start the season, San Jose has managed to turn things around as of late. Entering the week, they've won 11 of their last 13 games, including a 4-2 win at the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. Looking much improved on the defensive side of the puck during this uptick, they've allowed just one goal in three of their last six games. Logan Couture leads the Sharks in scoring with 28 points, including six goals and eight assists over his last 10 games. Evander Kane, meanwhile, leads the team with 12 goals. Vincent Trocheck should be a player to watch for the Panthers in this matchup, as the 26-year-old center has dented the scoresheet in six of his last eight games. In that span, he's notched three goals and five assists, pushing his point total on the season to 14. In his career against San Jose, Trocheck has recorded two goals and five assists in 11 games.
Radio: WKIS-FM 99.9 HD-2 (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS)
In-Arena Activations: 50/50 Raffle; Yoga Day
- Keith Yandle is four goals away from his 100th NHL goal.
- Brian Boyle is four assists away from his 100th NHL assist.
- Jonathan Huberdeau is four points away from tying Stephen Weiss (394) for the second-most points in Panthers history.
- Aleksander Barkov is two goals away from tying Stephen Weiss (145) for the fourth-most goals in Panthers history.
If you watched SportsCenter last week, you probably saw Logan Hutsko.
Holding down the ninth spot among the show's top-10 plays of the night on Nov. 26, the 20-year-old forward garnered quite a bit of national attention for the individual effort he showed while scoring a stunning power-play goal that helped lead Boston College's 6-2 win over Yale.
A third-round pick (89th overall) by the Panthers in the 2018 NHL Draft, Hutsko has opened up his junior season with a nine-game point streak, including six goals. Despite missing four games due to an injury, those six goals currently place him in a tie for the second-most on the Eagles.
In 82 career games at Boston College, Hutsko has notched 67 points (24 goals, 43 assists).
CYBER MONDAY DEAL
There's no better time to purchase tickets to Florida's gargantuan homestand than right now.
As part of Cyber Monday, the Panthers are all removing all fees on single-game tickets for all of the team's remaining games in December. These tickets must be purchased between 7 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2, and excludes ticket packages, resale and other special offers.
Once the window opens, all single-game tickets can be purchased on Ticketmaster HERE.
SIP N' STROLL ARTWALK
You've likely never been to an art exhibit quite like this.
In conjunction with The Abstract Athlete and Twenty6North Productions, the Panthers will host their first-ever "Holiday 'Sip N' Stroll' Art Walk" during their matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets at BB&T Center on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Starting at 7 p.m., all fans with tickets to the game are welcome to visit the Chairman's Club on the arena's Suite Level in order to peruse and purchase artwork created by former professional athletes, military veterans and various other local artists from around South Florida.
The exhibit will only run through the end of the second intermission, so don't wait until the final buzzer sounds to check it out!
If you like yoga then I guarantee that yo-gunna love this event.
On Sunday, Dec. 8, the Panthers will host a one-hour yoga session at BB&T Center starting at 10 a.m. The yoga, which will be led by Yoga Joint, will take place on the JetBlue Tarmac in front of the arena. Mats will be available upon arrival, but we encourage everyone to bring their own.
Fans that purchase a ticket to the session will not only receive a yoga-themed tank top, but also one ticket to watch Florida take on either the San Jose Sharks later that evening or the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
To purchase tickets, please click HERE.
CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK
As part of their annual "Hockey Fights Cancer Night," the Panthers hosted a first-time meeting between a life-saving stem cell donor and his transplant recipient at BB&T Center on Nov. 16. When it comes to celebrating the season of giving, there's no gift bigger than this.
Video: Gift of Life Meeting
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
On the latest episode of the Territory Talk podcast, The Athletic's George Richards calls into the show to share his thoughts on how the Panthers have looked in the early goings of this season, including which player has looked the most improved under new head coach Joel Quenneville.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- Voting is now open for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game. Let's send a Cat to captain the Atlantic Division in St. Louis!
-- Look back at Florida's shutout win over the Predators on Saturday with "5 Takeaways."
-- The Panthers are taking their franchise-record homestand one game at a time.
-- Brett Connolly has been making the most out of his opportunity with Florida.
-- You never know the affect checking a box can have on someone's life.
-- The Panthers will host "Mental Health Awareness Night" on Dec. 10.
-- It's easer than ever to fit hockey into your schedule with a personalized "Flex Plan."
-- Jonathan Huberdeau felt the excitement from Panthers fans at Miami-Homestead Speedway.
-- Feeling nostalgic this week? Check out pieces of Panthers history in the Virtual Vault.