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Cats & Coffee: Streaking Panthers Ready for Test in Tampa

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.

The Florida Panthers enter this week as the hottest team in the NHL, winning 13 of their last 16 games and coming off just the second 6-0-0 homestand in the 24-year history of the franchise.

The Panthers (32-25-6) capped off their six-game stretch of perfection with a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at BB&T Center on Sunday, briefly moving into a playoff spot before relinquishing it later in the day.

Florida trails Columbus by just one point for the second wild card spot and New Jersey by four points for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, with three games in hand on both clubs.

"It's been unbelievable," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said after Sunday's win. "We said before this stretch what we needed to do and put these five and six-game winning streaks together and we've done it against some pretty good teams. No different today.

"Obviously, [Philadelphia] pushed us hard. I liked our start again, I think that's been the key to our success. We weren't very good in the second period and they were. [Roberto Luongo] made the huge saves for us when we needed them today and gave us a chance to get our legs underneath us."

In order to gain a firmer grasp on a place in the postseason, the Panthers will have to find success this week on the road, as they travel to Tampa for a one-game road trip before heading back home to host Montreal and New York.

"The more wins we were getting, the more confident we were at home," Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo said. "That being said, we have to play the same way on the road. I think we're doing a pretty good job of that.

"Obviously, it's got a huge game coming up for us on Tuesday [in Tampa]. It's a huge test for our club to see where we're at. We want to make sure that we keep the momentum that we've had here and play the same way on the road."

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

THE GAMES

Tuesday: at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m.

In what could prove to be a first-round playoff preview, the Panthers will begin their week with a very tough test on the road against the Lightning (45-17-4) at Amalie Arena on Tuesday. Tampa Bay has won seven of its last nine games and currently boasts the best record in the Eastern Conference. Led by all-star winger Nikita Kucherov, who paces the NHL with 85 points, the Lightning boast the league's top-ranked offense (3.56 goals per game) and third-ranked power play (24.2 percent). For the Panthers, look for Evgenii Dadonov to match or best Kucherov's production in this contest, as the 28-year-old winger has lit the lamp nine times over his last 11 games to reach the 20-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career.

Panthers vs. Lightning: 1-2-0

TV: FSF

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

Thursday: Montreal Canadiens, 7:30 p.m.

After a brief trip across the state, the Panthers will return home to kick off a five-game homestand against the reeling Canadiens (25-29-11) at BB&T Center on Thursday. Montreal enters the week having lost nine of its 12 games to fall to sixth place in the Atlantic Division. For the Canadiens, offense has been hard to come by as of late, as the team has scored one-or-fewer goals in two of their last four games. In this matchup, the Panthers will look to pull away from Montreal early, as Florida has opened the scoring in 12 of its last 14 games and is 23-9-2 overall when scoring first this season. But who will score that first goal? Well, Aleksander Barkov would be safe bet. The 22-year-old center has been on fire in recent weeks, scoring at least one goal in four straight games while also leading the Panthers in points goals (25), assists (39) and points (64) this season.

Panthers vs. Canadiens: 1-1-0

TV: FSF

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

Saturday: New York Rangers, 7:00 p.m.

The Panthers will close out their week against the resurgent Rangers (30-30-6) at BB&T Center on Saturday. After losing seven straight games and falling out of the playoff race, New York has seemingly found new life, entering the week on the back of a three-game winning streak. Having traded away several veteran stars, including captain Ryan McDonagh and forward Rick Nash, leading up to last week's trade deadline, the rebuilding Rangers have been getting offensive production from numerous players throughout their lineup, including forward Kevin Hayes, who has scored three goals over his last three games. In this matchup, look for Roberto Luongo to put a pin in New York's revival, as the 38-year-old goaltender is 6-1-0 with a 2.27 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage since returning from a groin injury on Feb. 17.

Panthers vs. Rangers: 1-0-1

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.

- Vincent Trocheck is six points away from his 200th NHL point.

- Jamie McGinn is six assists away from his 100th NHL assist.

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

HUNT FOR THE PLAYOFFS

As the Panthers push towards the playoffs, we want you to join the 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.

JOIN THE TERRITORY

There's never been a better time to become a Season Ticket Holder.

Join the Panthers as they celebrate their 25th anniversary during the 2018-19 season and enjoy all the benefits that come with being a Season Ticket Holder, such as merchandise discounts, exclusive savings on concessions and priority access to concerts and events.

"We're here because of your commitment," said Florida Panthers President & CEO Matthew Caldwell to season ticket holders. "Your support and passion for hockey in South Florida means the world to us and we are honored to have you as a part of our family. We look forward to having you as a part of this historic 25th anniversary season, while making exciting new memories."

If you are a current Season Ticket Holder, make sure to check out the team's exclusive renewal incentives, including Cats CA$H at early deadlines and the 30 Days of Giveaways.

For a full list of prizes and renewal options, please visit HERE

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Season Tickets for our 25th Anniversary Season are on sale NOW! Get yours today �� https://t.co/rxCygN4jJa pic.twitter.com/DZX6jb9uaD

WRESTLING NIGHT

The world of suplexes and slap shots will collide once again when the Panthers host their second-annual Pro Wrestling Night during their matchup against the Edmonton Oilers at BB&T Center on Saturday, March 17.

In addition to several Coastal Championship Wrestling matches on the JetBlue Tarmac prior to puck drop, there will also be a live edition of the "Something to Wrestle" podcast with Bruce Prichard and Conrad Thompson, marking the first time the duo has ever performed in South Florida.

For tickets and information, click HERE.

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: This is not a rib. The #FlaPanthers��Second Annual Pro Wrestling Night will be on March 17 featuring a live edition of Something to Wrestle with @bruceprichard & @heyheyitsconrad. #RoyalRumble2018 #RoyalRumble �� https://t.co/QPJ3QExvbV pic.twitter.com/XjET259aVP

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: We had a blast hosting a Street Cats Clinic for the Bright Horizons School this morning! #HockeyIsForEveryone pic.twitter.com/Tw61hFtlBo

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: Tonight's @mossconstruct Community Champion is @ARCBroward! Their mission is to transform the community by providing opportunities for people with disabilities and life challenges to reach their full potential. https://t.co/PlLAlB9Uup pic.twitter.com/y4C5UbUwTA

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: As sports medicine outreach coordinator, not only does @Walmart #WMPlaymaker Rob Henry find medical coverage for the Miami Dade Public high schools for their pre-participation physicals and varsity football games, but he also volunteers his time. pic.twitter.com/c2d40q1R4x

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

-- Miss anything from Sunday's 4-1 win over the Flyers? Make sure to check out "5 Takeaways" from last night's game in order to catch up on all the highlights, quotes and notes

- The Panthers recently signed defenseman Riley Stillman to a three-year, entry-level contract

- Look back on all of the Panthers' amazing inclusion initiatives throughout February's "Hockey is for Everyone" month

- The Panthers are "Going Green" this March

- Check-in on Roberto Luongo and Jared McCann with our latest notebook

- The Panthers stayed pat on trade deadline day - for good reason

- Grateful Dead Night is back! 

 

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