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Cats & Coffee: With History Made, The Playoff Hunt Continues

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

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!

Jonathan Huberdeau didn't spend too much time basking in his record.

After earning the 420th point of his career in an 8-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night to overtake Olli Jokinen as the franchise's all-time scoring leader, the Florida Panthers star briefly discussed his long and emotional journey before turning his attention to the road ahead.

"It feels like it was yesterday, time flies so fast," said Huberdeau, who selected by the Panthers with the third-overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. "I care about this organization, I'm happy to be here and, like I've said before, I want to play here as long as I can. Seeing yourself on the stage being drafted, still being here with all the guys, we've had the same core for a while. Now we want to win, we want to get into the playoffs and that's where it will be a lot more fun."

In dominating the Maple Leafs, he and his teammates inched a little bit closer to that goal.

Entering this week with wins in nine of their last 13 games, the upstart Panthers (24-16-5) currently occupy the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, while also trailing Toronto by just one point for third place in the Atlantic Division with one game in hand.

Heading to the first All-Star Game of his career later this month, Huberdeau, who leads the team and ranks seventh in the league with 61 points (18 goals, 43 assists), said the team's primary goal now is to finish strong heading into their final elongated break of the season.

After wrapping up a four-game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, the Panthers will play three games on the road before the schedule grinds to a halt for All-Star Weekend. That crucial trek will begin with a tilt against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

And even after 420 points, Huberdeau remains focused solely on the points in the standings.

"We've lost some points against other teams, but that's in the past we need to look ahead," said Huberdeau, who's recorded 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) over his last 13 games. "We've got to get some points before the All-Star break… I tried to take [the record] in tonight with my family, now I'm focused on getting into the playoffs."

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

THE GAMES

Thursday: Los Angeles Kings, 7:00 p.m.

After a few days off, the Panthers will close the book on their final homestand before the All-Star break when they host the Kings (18-25-4) at BB&T Center on Thursday. Los Angeles enters this week with losses in four of its last five games, including a 2-0 defeat at Carolina on Saturday. In that five-game span, the goals have been hard to come by, as the team has tallied one-or-fewer goals three times. Anze Kopitar leads the Kings in goals (16) and points (40) and has notched at least one point in five of his last seven outings. Behind him, Tyler Toffoli has recorded 27 points, while Alex Iafallo and Drew Doughty each have 26. For the Panthers, Mike Hoffman would be a safe bet to light the lamp in this contest. In the midst of a six-game point streak, the 30-year-old winger has also found the back of the net in each of his last four games. Tied for second on the Panthers in goals (18) and also sitting fourth in points (35), he's tallied six goals and five assists over his last nine games. In his career against Los Angeles, he's scored four goals in 10 games.

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 850 WFTL (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM 210/Streaming 932

In-Arena Activations: 50-50 Raffle; $5 Beer Thursday; Jonathan Huberdeau All-Star Poster Giveaway upon egress 

Tickets: HERE

Saturday: at Detroit Red Wings, 7:00 p.m.

The Panthers will open up a three-game trek when they visit the Red Wings (12-31-3) at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday. The 31st-ranked team in the league, Detroit has lost nine of its last 12 games and enters this week on the heels of a 5-1 defeat against Buffalo on Sunday. Florida has already topped the Red Wings twice this season, winning those matchups by a combined score of 9-4. Struggling at both ends of the ice, Detroit ranks last in the league in both offense (2.15 goals per game) and defense (3.78 goals allowed per game). Up front, Tyler Bertuzzi paces the team in goals (16) and points (34), while Dylan Larkin has the most assists (19). For the Panthers, look for Aleksander Barkov to come up big in this contest. Ranking second on the team with 49 points (14 goals, 35 assists), the 24-year-old center has registered four goals and nine assists over his last 13 games. And, in his career against the Red Wings, he's produced at nearly a point-per-game clip while racking up 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 24 games.

TV: FSF

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM Streaming 932

Territory on Tap Locations: HERE

Official Watch Party: Bokamper's Bar & Grill in Miramar

MILESTONE WATCH

- Keith Yandle is two goals away from his 100th NHL goal.

- Brett Connolly is five goals away from his 100th NHL goal.

- Aaron Ekblad is five points away from his 200th NHL point.

- Frank Vatrano is two points away from his 100th NHL point.

PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT

Ben Finkelstein is starting to put up the points in his senior season at Boston College.

Entering this week, the 22-year-old defenseman has made a dent in the scoresheet in six of his last 10 games, posting three goals and six assists in that span. Starting off 2020 with a bang, he has recorded six points (one goal, five assists) in three games since ringing in the New Year.

On Jan. 11, Finkelstein matched his career-high with three points (one goal, two assists) and also chipped in one block to lead the No.4 Eagles to a 6-3 win over No. 10 UMass in Amherst.

Tweet from @BCHockey: GOAL! Fink absolutely rips a one-timer off the left post and the lead is three!#WeAreBC🦅 pic.twitter.com/jxj3WTIefS

A seventh-round pick (195th overall) by the Panthers in the 2016 NHL Draft, Finkelstein has tallied 12 points (three goals, nine assists) and a team-high 25 blocks in 18 games this year.

HILTON GIVEAWAY

Want to be a part of the playoff push? This is your chance!

Right now, fans can enter to win a trip to see the Panthers battle the Bruins in Boston on March 28. In addition to a pair of tickets to the game and round-trip airfare for two, the winner will also be awarded three nights of accommodations at the Hilton Boston Downtown-Faneuil Hall Hotel.

The contest ends on Feb. 6, so make sure and enter as soon as possible by clicking HERE.

BECOME AN ALL-STAR

While Jonathan Huberdeau will travel to St. Louis to participate in the first NHL All-Star Game of his career later this month, fans can get the All-Star treatment all season long at BB&T Center.

With the "All-Star Suite Package," fans can entertain family, friends or co-workers at some of the biggest Panthers game down the home stretch. In addition to a great view and wonderful seats, the package also includes food & beverage, parking and a welcome message for your group.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please click HERE.

CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK

From third-overall pick to Florida's points leader, take a look back at Jonathan Huberdeau's journey. 

Video: Jonathan Huberdeau becomes franchise leader in points

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @BrowardHealth: The hospital can seem like a scary place for some children and our caregivers are here to help. @FlaPanthers your support of our Child Life Program at Salah Foundation Children's Hospital will help our young patients better manage their stay. #PassionForCaring @StanleyCPanther pic.twitter.com/6cOs1lw061

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: We���re honored to welcome tonight���s @mossconstruct Community Champion H.O.M.E.S Inc. pic.twitter.com/2IFCRbwmIk

Tweet from @DeliverTheDream: Thank you The @FlaPanthers Foundation for your continued support! Happy Military Appreciation Night and thank you to all who have served, we salute you! Go Cats Go. pic.twitter.com/rzjMnXAjLs

TERRITORY TALK

On the latest episode of the Territory Talk podcast, Jonathan Huberdeau joins the show to talk about earning his first trip to the NHL All-Star Game, the excitement of chasing Florida's all-time points record and more!

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

-- The Panthers scored a season-high eight goals in Sunday's win over the Maple Leafs. You can take a look back at all of them with "5 Takeaways."

-- Sam Montembeault was recalled from AHL Springfield on an emergency basis on Sunday.

-- In the latest "Player Blog" at FloridaPanthers.com, rookie defenseman Riley Stillman talks about his desire to win, what his father has taught him and his hopes for the long road ahead.

-- Panthers prospect Cole Schwindt was named the OHL's "Player of the Month" for December.

-- Get in in the game with the "Learn to Play" program.

-- Florida will host its annual Pride Night on Feb. 8.

-- The Panthers had some fun playing a little pond-style hockey at a recent practice.

-- The 15th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, Panthers prospect Grigori Denisenko captained Russia to a silver medal at the 2020 IIHF World Championship.

-- There are treasures waiting to be found within the Baptist Health Panthers Virtual Vault!

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