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Cats & Coffee: Road Trip; Panther Conservation Night

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment presented by Community Coffee in which we get you caffeinated with an exciting look at the week ahead for the Florida Panthers.

With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Florida Panthers will play seven of their next eight games on the road, beginning with a three-game road trip this week, including a must-win matchup in Columbus on Thursday.

The Panthers (35-27-7) are coming off a 9-2-0 stretch at home that ended with a 4-2 loss to Edmonton on Saturday at BB&T Center. Up 2-1 after two periods, the Oilers scored three unanswered goals in the third period to hand Florida its first loss when leading after 40 minutes this season.

"If we bring what we did in the first part of the game to the road trip, we're going to be fine," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "There's some games there we know we have to win. But we can't afford to play like we did in the second half of the third period there. That's the difference in our identity and how we play."

With 13 games remaining in the season, the Panthers currently trail New Jersey by five points for the second wild card spot and Columbus by six points for the first wild card spot into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. Florida also has three games in hand on both clubs.

"It's just a matter of coming to every game like it's a playoff game now," Panthers center Vincent Trocheck said.

Here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…

THE GAMES

Monday: at Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers will kick off their three-game trip against the Canadiens (26-34-12) at Bell Centre on Monday. Montreal has dropped seven of its last eight games, including a 4-0 loss in Toronto on Saturday, and will be without three of their top players due to injuries in this contest: forward Max Pacioretty, defenseman Shea Weber and goaltender Carey Price. On March 8, Florida handed the Canadiens a 5-0 loss in Sunrise in which five different skaters found the back of the net for the Panthers. In this contest, look for Vincent Trocheck to get the scoring started for Florida, as the 24-year-old center is riding a season-high six game point streak (4-5-9) and has scored a team-leading 28 goals thus far.

Panthers vs. Canadiens: 2-1-0

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

Tuesday: at Ottawa Senators, 7:30 p.m.

With a recent defeat still fresh in their minds, the Panthers will battle the Senators (26-34-11) at the Canadian Tire Centre on Tuesday. Ottawa previously defeated the Panthers, 5-3, on March 12, snapping Florida's franchise-record, eight-game winning streak at home. After falling out of the playoff race, the Senators have been playing much better as of late, winning three of their last four games. The first of four back-to-back sets the Panthers will have to the close out their season, Panthers coach Bob Boughner said during a practice last week that he expects to start backup goaltender James Reimer in this matchup. Reimer has won four of his last five starts, including a 46-save shutout against Boston on March 15.

Panthers vs. Senators: 1-1-0

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

Thursday: at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:00 p.m.

In a game with huge playoff implications, the Panthers enter a must-win matchup against the Blue Jackets (39-28-5) at Nationwide Arena on Thursday. Columbus leads Florida by six points in the wild card race and enters this week riding a season-high seven-game winning streak. The Blue Jackets have scored four-or-more goals in five of their last eight games, thanks in large part to the outstanding play of defenseman Seth Jones, who has notched four goals of his last four games. For the Panthers, look for Aleksander Barkov to rise to the occasion in Florida's biggest game of the season. The 22-year-old center has posted a career-high 70 points thus far, including 23 (7-16-23) in his last 17 games.

Panthers vs. Blue Jackets: 0-1-1

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

Saturday: Arizona Coyotes, 7:00 p.m.

The Panthers will return home for a quick one-game pitstop against the Coyotes (23-37-11) at BB&T Center on Saturday. Despite owning the fewest points in the league, Arizona has been somewhat dangerous as of late, winning five of its last nine games. The Coyotes are led by rookie forward Clayton Keller, who has tallied a team-leading 52 points (20-32-52) this season. In this matchup, look for Evgenii Dadonov to take advantage of Arizona's 26th-ranked defense (3.14 goals allowed per game). The 29-year-old winger has posted a team-leading 17 points (7-10-17) and seven goals over his last 12 games for the Panthers. Over that 12-game span, Dadonov has accumulated seven multi-point performances.

Panthers vs. Coyotes: 1-0-0

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 1370 WAXE (TREASURE COAST)

MILESTONE WATCH

- Aleksander Barkov is two goals away from his 100th NHL goal.

- Nick Bjugstad is seven assists away from his 100th NHL assist.

- Derek MacKenzie is one game away from his 600th NHL game.

- Vincent Trocheck is three games away from his 300th NHL game.

- Micheal Haley is three games away from his 200th NHL game.

- Aaron Ekblad is four games away from his 300th NHL game.

- Roberto Luongo is seven games away from his 1,000th NHL game.

HUNT FOR THE PLAYOFFS

With five home games remaining, there's still time to join the playoff hunt!

The newly unveiled "Panthers Playoff Hunt 4 Game Ticket Package" allows fans to build their own four-game package as the team heads down the home stretch in March and April.

In addition to catching the excitement of a playoff chase, fans who purchase this package will also enjoy special benefits, including playoff pre-sale access, best available seat locations and discounted prices from single-game pricing.

Seating options include:

- 300 Level Goalzone x1/2x: $23.25

- Club End: $42

- 100 Level Sideline: $65

- Row 2: $125 For more ticketing information, click HERE.

PANTHER CONSERVATION NIGHT

As part of the organization's eco-friendly "Green Month," the Panthers will host their third-annual Panther Conservation Night when the Arizona Coyotes visit the BB&T Center on Saturday, March 24.

The Florida Panther -- the state's official animal since 1987 - is currently one of the most endangered mammals in the world, with an estimated 180 to 200 living in the wild as of 2017.

A key pillar of the Florida Panthers Foundation, the Florida panther has long been seen as more than just a mascot to the organization. In an effort to help their favorite feline, this night will feature educational tables, in-game facts and fundraising opportunities.

A portion of all ticket sales purchased through THIS link will also support conservation efforts. https://groupmatics.events/event/Conservationnight

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: #NHLGreen month continues! Help us support our namesake on March 24. #FlaPanthers�� https://t.co/bC58XTkZX8 pic.twitter.com/jb5unDUa8N

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @BrowardVoices: We had such an incredible night at the @FlaPanthers game! A BIG thank you to The Florida Panthers Foundation for including us this year as Community Champions Partner presented by @MossAssociates. We are so excited for our new partnership! #communitychampions #dreamBIG pic.twitter.com/hXNr6ZHiPb

Tweet from @StanleyCPanther: Early morning down in Miami for the @thediaperbank Golf Tournament. I had some cute @ROARCorps girls as my date too. �� pic.twitter.com/HuYOs5KxN2

Tweet from @wpbfisherhouse: As recipient of @FlaPanthersCARE Grant, WPB Fisher House completed renovations providing increased mobility in the house 4 our special needs guests! 4ever grateful @FlaPanthers 4 dedication 2 our #MilitaryVets Thank U @FlaPanthers!https://t.co/vrPFHzpVdQ

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

- Just how good has Evgenii Dadonov been? Find out in our latest notebook

- New Panther forward Frank Vatrano recently took over the team's Twitter. You can find all of the highlights here

- Owen Tippett, Florida's first-round pick in 2017,is taking a professional approach to his season in the Ontario Hockey League

- What's it like living next to Aaron Ekblad? Keith Yandle sat down with the boys from Territory Talk to answer that question and much, much more

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