Good morning and welcome to "Cats & Coffee," a weekly segment, presented by Koffee Kult, in which we serve up an exciting look at what's on deck for your Florida Panthers. Like our friends at Koffee Kult, this forecast serves up only the best -- so sit back, sip and enjoy our latest brew of news, notes and information.
While their ticket to the playoffs has already been punched, the Panthers enter this week still jockeying for position within the Central Division with just three games left on their schedule.
As it stands now, the Panthers (34-14-5) are tied with the Lightning (35-14-3) for second place in the division, while both teams trail the Hurricanes (34-10-7) by just two points for the top spot.
"We want to keep this momentum going into the playoffs," Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar said prior to Saturday's 5-4 win over the Blackhawks. "We want to finish strong and keep that winning attitude going into the playoffs. There's still a lot on the line here."
Picking up wins in eight of their last 11 games, the Panthers will look to stay red-hot when they kick off their final homestand with a matchup against the Stars on Monday in Sunrise. After that, they'll close out their week with a potential playoff preview against the Lightning on Saturday.
On May 10, the Cats and Bolts will clash one more time to wrap up the regular season.
Heating up at the perfect time, the Panthers rank second in the NHL in goals (42) during their current 11-game stretch. In that span, Jonathan Huberdeau leads the team with 16 points, while Anthony Duclair (15), Sam Bennett (13) and Aleksander Barkov (11) have also been piling it on.
"Home or away, we've been playing the same way game in, game out," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said of the team's sustained success this year. "We give ourselves a chance, and everyone is contributing on a game-to-game basis. … All year long, it's been pretty consistent."
Already looking ahead to the playoffs? Click HERE to get early access on ticket availability.
Until then, here's everything you need to know for the week ahead…
Monday: Dallas Stars, 7 p.m. ET
The Panthers will kick off their final homestand of the regular season when they host the Stars (21-17-13) at BB&T Center on Monday. Entering this week looking to shake out of a three-game losing streak, Dallas currently trails Nashville by three points for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division, but also has one game in hand. With their offense sputtering during their current skid, the Stars have been shut out in two of their last three contests. Up front, Joe Pavelski leads the team in goals (21), points (44) and power-play points (20), while rookie Jason Robertson paces the club in assists (40). Finding success against the Panthers, Robertson has recorded six points (four goals, two assists) through the first seven games of the season series. With one matchup left against the Stars, look for Anthony Duclair to crack the scoresheet for the Panthers in this game. Carrying a flaming hot stick for more than a month, the 25-year-old forward has produced 18 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in his last 13 outings. Making a positive impact whenever he's on the ice, he also ranks tied for first on the team with a +25 rating this season.
TV: Bally Sports Florida
Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 107.9 FM/1370 AM WZTA (TREASURE COAST) SIRIUSXM CH. 203/APP & STREAMING CH. 932
Saturday: Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m. ET
After enjoying a few days of well-deserved rest, the Panthers will open up their final two-game set of the regular season when they host the Lightning (35-14-3) at BB&T Center on Saturday. Tied with Florida for the second-most points in the Central Division, Tampa Bay heads into this week with victories in six of its last eight games, including a 2-1 win at Detroit on Sunday. Solid at both ends of the ice, the Lightning sit sixth in the NHL on both offense (3.29 goals per game) and defense (2.48 goals allowed per game). Fueling that offense, Brayden Point leads the team in scoring with 46 points (22 goals, 24 assists), including two goals and five assists over his last five games. Not far behind him, Ondrej Palat sits second in scoring with 45 points, while Victor Hedman ranks third with 44. Owning a 3-2-1 record against their instate rivals this season, the Panthers will likely receive another strong performance from Aleksander Barkov in this game. In the midst of the best goal-scoring stretch of his career, the 25-year-old center has lit the lamp 17 times over his last 22 games to push his team-leading total to 25. Additionally, he also only trails Jonathan Huberdeau (58) on the team in scoring with 54 points, including six against the Bolts.
TV: Bally Sports Sun, ESPN+
Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 640 WMEN (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS); 107.9 FM/1370 AM WZTA (TREASURE COAST) SIRIUSXM CH. 219/APP & STREAMING CH. 932
Sergei Bobrovsky is four wins away from his 300th NHL win.
Keith Yandle is three points away from his 600th NHL point.
Jonathan Huberdeau is five points away from his 500th NHL point.
TEACHER APPRECIATION NIGHT
With the school year nearing its end, it's time to thank all the educators out there.
On Monday, the Panthers will host "Teacher Appreciation Night" when the Stars come to town. Throughout the game, teachers will receive a 25% off discount on merchandise at Pantherland and 20% off food and beverages at Coca-Cola stands by just showing their school ID or badge.
Select teachers from local schools will also be highlighted on Panthers' social media channels.
To purchase tickets, visit FloridaPanthers.com/Tickets.
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Think you're a Panthers superfan? It's time to put your knowledge to the test!
Presented by Baptist Health, a brand-new "Trivia Challenge" is now available for fans to enjoy within the Panthers Virtual Vault. After answering each question, fans will also have the option to explore the topic even further by checking out linked items within the vault's vast archives.
Once the challenge is complete, fans can also enter to win tickets to an upcoming game.
Ready to give it a go? Click HERE to begin the "Trivia Challenge" right now!
PLAYERS' FAVORITE THINGS AUCTION
A special chance for you to learn and collect your Cats favorite items has returned!
With all proceeds benefitting the Florida Panthers Foundation, fans can currently bid on the special "Players Favorite Things" auction. Curated by players such as MacKenzie Weegar and Alex Wennberg, these backets are full of handpicked goodies, such as signed jerseys, pickleball paddles and more.
This auction is only open until May 8, so click HERE to bid right now.
Santtu Kinnunen has gotten off to a good start in the Liiga Playoffs.
Helping lead Tappara to a 4-1 win over Lukko on April 30, the 22-year-old defenseman recorded one goal and a +2 rating. Getting his first taste of the postseason, he's tallied three points (two goals, one assist) and 27 shots while averaging 19:31 of ice time over seven contests thus far.
Taken by the Panthers in the seventh round (207th overall) in the 2018 NHL Draft, Kinnunen's playoff success comes on the heels of a solid regular season. During his third campaign in Liiga, he reached career-highs in goals (5), assists (14), points (19) and games played (59).
With Tappara trailing Lukko 2-1 in the best-of-five series, Kinnunen will now look to have another big game and stave off elimination when the two teams meet again on Monday.
CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK
A new episode of "Panthers Uncaged" has arrived!
In the latest installment of the behind-the-scenes series, the Panthers continue to pile points while weathering a storm of injuries, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky receives a special honor, rookie defenseman Matt Kiersted's connection to the Cats come full circle and much more.
For a full breakdown of the episode, click HERE to read "Unpacking Uncaged."
Video: Panthers Uncaged Season 2: Ep 4
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
Frank Vatrano joined the latest episode of the Territory Talk podcast to discuss his knack for coming up in the clutch, his favorite nicknames, his preferred Warzone teammates and more.
COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)
-- Anthony Duclair had a big game in Chicago on Saturday.
-- Check out the latest mailbag from Panthers radio play-by-play broadcaster Doug Plagens.
-- Jonathan Huberdeau received a nice honor last week.
-- The Panthers are going to the big dance!
-- Brady Keeper and Sam Montembeault have joined Florida's taxi squad.
-- The Panthers Podcast Network has arrived! Learn how to listen and subscribe now.
-- Make sure to sign up for the new "93 Society" newsletter.