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Cats and Coffee: Playoff Rematch, Harvest Drive

A look ahead at the upcoming week.

by Jameson Olive JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

Luongo robs Backstrom with glove

FLA@WSH: Luongo flashes the glove to rob Backstrom

Roberto Luongo makes a save on Alex Ovechkin's initial shot and follows it with an amazing glove save on Nicklas Backstrom's rebound attempt

  • 00:13 •

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 are off to a slow start to their 2016-17 campaign, but will have a good chance to get their season back against a trio of tough opponents -- the Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders - at the BB&T Center this week.

After a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday, the Panthers are now 5-6-1 on the season, struggling to find the same level of consistency that propelled the franchise to the top of the Atlantic Division last season. 

"Things were looking good for our hockey team, and then we fell apart again," Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant said after the loss. "It was a matter of time before they're coming back the way we were playing."

As it has been in recent weeks, the Panthers struggled when playing out in front of the Capitals, letting a one-goal lead slip through their fingers on two separate occasions in defeat. 

Still, the Panthers are confident that their situation can be remedied, and it's only a matter of time before leads are no longer lost and the wins begin to pile up.

"Every game we have a lead and we just give up easy goals," Panthers center Aleksander Barkov said. "We don't battle that hard when we get a lead. We feel like that's it, and when we get a lead we need to battle hard and get a bigger lead or just play our own game."

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

Video: FLA@TBL: Matheson nets first NHL goal for late lead

THE GAMES

Monday: Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers will look to avenge an early-season overtime loss against their intrastate rivals when the Lightning visits the BB&T Center on Monday. Tampa Bay, which defeated the Panthers 4-3 in the extra frame on Oct. 18, has gone 2-0-1 in its past three games, including a 4-1 home over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. In this contest, Florida's defense will need to stay sharp and play relatively mistake-free hockey, as the Lightning currently boasts two of the league's top-four scorers in Nikita Kucherov (15 points) and Steven Stamkos (14 points).

Panthers vs. Lightning this season: 0-0-1
TV: FSF Radio: English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward)


Thursday: San Jose Sharks, 7:30 p.m.

The Panthers will get their first look at last season's Western Conference champions when they host the Sharks (6-6-0) at the BB&T Center on Thursday. San Jose, which owned a 2-0-0 record against the Panthers last season, is currently in the midst of their first three-game skid of the season, being outscored 11-4 by their opponents in those contests. If he gets the nod, goaltender James Reimer, who started eight games for the Sharks last season, should have a good night against his former team, as San Jose currently boasts the league's 27th-ranked offense (2.25 goals per game on average).

Panthers vs. Sharks this season 0-0-0
TV: FSF
Radio: English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward)


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

It'll be a rematch of last season's opening-round playoff series when the Panthers host the Islanders (4-6-2) at the BB&T Center on Sunday. The Panthers, who were eliminated by the Islanders in six games last postseason, still believe that they were the better team in that series, especially given the fact that three of their four losses came in overtime. That said, this is a new year and it's time to throw anything pertaining to last season's matchup out the window. In this contest, the Panthers will look to take advantage of New York's struggling special teams, which ranks 24th in the league in both the power play (11.4 percent) and penalty kill (78.3 percent).

Panthers vs. Islanders this season: 0-0-0
TV: FSF Radio: English: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beaches); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast); Spanish: 990 WMYM (Dade/Broward)


HARVEST DRIVE

In the first of four holiday drives scheduled to be held throughout the months of November and December, the Panthers will be partnering with Harvest Drive for a food drive on Monday.

The Harvest Drive, which assists more than 2000 food insecure families during the Thanksgiving Season, is a yearlong project that culminates with families receiving a complete meal and a week's worth of grocery staples, as well as personal and household necessities during Thanksgiving season.

To support these charitable efforts, all Panther fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to the JetBlue Tarmac at the front of the BB&T Center prior to the Panthers hosting the Lightning at 7:30 p.m. 

All fans that donate will receive an exclusive Panthers poster.

HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER

As part of a new partnership with the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Panthers will be hosting two cancer awareness nights during this week's slate of games.

On Monday against Tampa Bay, the team will host a Rare Cancer Awareness Night. On Saturday against the Islanders, the team will take part in a special Survivors Night, celebrating all everyone that has fought and beaten the terrible disease.

"The team of more than 250 cancer researchers and physicians at Sylvester is thrilled to join the Florida Panthers as their official Hockey Fights Cancer partner," said Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester. "The team's passion and commitment to winning mirrors our daily efforts to discover and develop new, innovative treatments for cancer that lead to better outcomes and more hope for patients in South Florida and beyond.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth - the University of Miami Health System and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is among the nation's leading cancer centers and South Florida's only Cancer Center of Excellence.

In the meantime, make sure to show us who you fight for. 

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Show us who you fight for!Share your @SylvesterCancer #HockeyFightsCancer cards ����https://t.co/mUMSy8QfSD pic.twitter.com/lYfeH10X7q

MILESTONE WATCH

- Panthers center Derek MacKenzie is three points shy of 100 for his career.

- Panthers forward Shawn Thornton is two points shy of 100 for his career.

- Panthers center Vincent Trocheck is two assists shy of 50 for his career.

- Panthers defenseman Jason Demers is two points shy of 150 for his career.

- Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad is two assists shy of 50 for his career.

COLD COFFEE (IN CASE YOU MISSED IT)

- Panthers defenseman Jason Demers talks road trips, Halloween and Aero barsin his latest diary entry.
 
"I was a sad clown with a bag full of Aeros -- that's my childhood on Halloween."

- After spending their childhood playing hockey together in Edmonton, Alberta, defensemen Alex Petrovic and Mark Pysyk are happy to be reunited on Florida's blue line this season.

"We've known each other since we were young," Petrovic said of his relationship with Pysyk. "We played U-18 and U-17 together. We didn't partner up all the time, but growing up we had lots of chances to play with and against each other. We also did some summer hockey together as well."

- The Panthers have recalled defenseman Jakub Kindl from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds.

- Get all the latest on goaltender Samuel Montembeault and several other future Panthers in our latest prospect report. 

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