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Cats Forecast: Chasing History, Panthers Aim to Stay Perfect at Home

by Jameson Olive @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

How good have the Panthers been on home ice this season?

Well, they have a chance to make history this week.

By coming out on top against the Central Division-leading Wild by a score of 5-4 on Saturday at FLA Live Arena, the Panthers picked up their 10th straight win at home, becoming just the fourth team in NHL history to rattle off that many consecutive victories on home ice to open a season.

If they win their next home game, they'll match the 1963-64 Blackhawks for the all-time record.

"We want to make this a really hard place to play," Panthers interim head coach Andrew Brunette said after the win over Minnesota. "We don't want to just be good at home, we want to be great. Tonight was just another step. This is a big homestand for us."

With history on the line, the Panthers will continue their homestand with a matchup against the Flyers on Wednesday. After that, they'll make a one-game trip up north to play the Capitals on Friday before returning to Sunrise to close out a back-to-back against the Kraken on Saturday.

Sitting pretty atop the NHL's standings with a 13-2-3 record, the Panthers have been one of the most well-rounded teams in the league. In addition to averaging a league-best 3.93 goals per game, they also rank fifth on defense by surrendering an average of just 2.50 goals per game.

As for having an extra jump at home, players have been giving a lot of credit to the crowd.

"I think it's just the atmosphere at the rink," Panthers forward Owen Tippett said. The guys obviously build off that. When you have crowds like we do, it's easy to get that energy."

From climbing the record books to "Puck & Pints," here's a look at the week ahead.

THE GAMES

Wednesday: Philadelphia Flyers, 7 p.m.

With a chance to match the record for longest winning streak on home ice to start a season, the Panthers will look to make it 11 in a row when they host the Flyers (8-5-3) at FLA Live Arena on Wednesday. In fourth place in the Metropolitan Division, Philadelphia enters this week fresh off a 5-2 loss against the Bruins on Saturday. Overall, the Flyers have come up short in four of their last six games while being outscored 18-11 in those contests. Claude Giroux is first on the team in scoring with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists), while Sean Couturier sits in second with 13 points (five goals, eight assists). Getting the start in 11 of 16 games, Carter Hart has posted a 5-3-0 record with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. In their only other meeting this season, Jonathan Huberdeau scored a pair of goals -- including a shorthanded tally -- to lead the Cats to a 4-2 win over the Flyers on Oct. 23. In this rematch, look for Huberdeau to do some damage once again as he currently leads Florida in both points (18) and assists (12).

TV & Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+ (Out of Region)

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); SiriusXM 220 / App & Streaming 932

Friday: at Washington Capitals, 5 p.m.

After filling up on turkey, stuffing and other festive foods on Thanksgiving, the Panthers will have a chance to burn off some of those calories right away when they head north to visit the Capitals (11-3-5) at Capitol One Arena on Friday. Entering the week in second place in the Metropolitan Division, Washington has picked up wins in six of its last eight games, but closed out last week with a 5-2 loss at Seattle on Sunday. Prior to that defeat, they'd registered consecutive shutout victories at San Jose and Los Angeles. Aging like a fine wine, Alex Ovechkin leads the Capitals and ranks third in the league in scoring with 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists). In fourth place on the NHL's all-time goals list with 745, the 36-year-old veteran has found the back of the net 40 times in 66 career games against the Panthers. Looking to match that offensive output, Anthony Duclair is one player to keep an eye on for the Cats in this matchup. Tied for first on the team in goals (9) and sitting third in points (16), the speedster has notched six points (three goals, three assists) in 12 career games against Washington, including scoring twice on the man advantage.

TV & Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+ (Out of Region)

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); SiriusXM App & Streaming 932

Saturday: Seattle Kraken, 6 p.m.

Who are these guys? Well, the Panthers are about to find out. Getting their first-ever look at the newest team in the NHL, the Cats will host the Kraken (5-12-1) at FLA Live Arena on Saturday. Entering the league this past summer, Seattle has struggled quite a bit out of the gate in their inaugural season and enters this week occupying last place in the Pacific Division. Ending last week on a high note, the Kraken snapped out of a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 win against the Capitals on Sunday. In the middle of the pack in goals scored, Seattle's primary issues have been on the defensive side of the puck. Surrendering a league-worst 3.78 goals per game on average, they've allowed at least four goals in 11 of their 18 games this season. Up front, Jaden Schwartz leads the team in points (16) and assists (12), while Jordan Eberle has the most goals (9). As for the Panthers, look for Aaron Ekblad to chip in some offense from the blue line in this matchup. In addition to ranking first among the team's defensemen in both points (15) and goals (5), he's also currently on a four-game point streak in which he's tallied a goal and four assists.

TV & Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+ (Out of Region)

Radio: 560 WQAM (DADE/BROWARD); 850 WFTL (PALM BEACH); 100.3 WCTH (FLORIDA KEYS) SIRIUSXM 219/APP & STREAMING 932

MILESTONE WATCH

- Anthony Duclair is two goals away from his 100th goal.

- Joe Thornton needs just one more point to break a tie with Paul Coffey (1,531) and claim sole possession of 13th place on the NHL's all-time points list.

PUCKS & PINTS RETURNS

It's time to grab your koozies and head to the rink.

Returning to FLA Live Arena this Saturday, fans can still purchase tickets to sample beer and listen to live music at "Pucks & Pints Beerfest" before watching the Panthers face the Kraken.

Presented by Funky Buddha Brewery, the annual Beerfest will be held at the City Lounge by City Furniture and also the food court in section 105 at the arena. Fans that purchase VIP tickets can enter the event at 2 p.m., while all other guests will be allowed entry at 3 p.m.

With the game beginning at 6 p.m., last call for the event is scheduled for 4:45 p.m.

The participating breweries are expected to be:

• 26 Degree Brewing

• Accomplice Brewery & Ciderworks

• Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

• Crazy Uncle Mike's

• Funky Buddha Brewery

• Saltwater Brewery

• 3 Mavins'

• Yuengling

• Yeasty Brews

With a portion of proceeds directly benefitting the Florida Panthers Foundation, click HERE to purchase tickets right now. Of course, you must be at least 21 years old to attend the Beerfest. 

NHL 22 TOURNAMENT

Calling all gamers and hockey fans!

Partnering with innovative gaming platform Rival, the Panthers will be hosting their second-annual 1v1 "Sunrise Showdown" NHL 22 tournament on Sunday, Dec. 5 beginning at 6 p.m.

The event, which will be held remotely, will take place on XBOX One, XBOX Series X/S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, with the winner on each of those consoles receiving an awesome customized Panthers jersey and a $100 digital credit to FLATeamShop.com.

Additionally, an autographed Panthers puck will be randomly awarded to one participant.

"We're excited to partner with Rival to host our FLA Panthers Gaming tournaments and events throughout the year," Panthers Chief Strategy Officer Sam Doerr said in a release. "Their innovative platform will be a huge resource for growing our gaming community as we offer unique and exciting incentives for participants."

To sign-up for the event, visit rivalgames.com/panthers.

Following that kickoff tournament, the Cats, through FLA Panthers Gaming, will continue to host regular NHL 22 tournaments on XBOX Series X/S and PlayStation 5 throughout the season.

Want to stay up to date on these events? Following @FlaPanthersGame on Twitter.

KIDS CLUB

The Panthers have launched an all-new Kids Club with three membership options.

South Florida boys and girls ages 14 and under are invited to join the Panthers Kids Club, which offers access to exclusive events, special offers, Panthers merchandise packs and much more.

"Panthers Hockey offers something for fans of all ages, and we are excited to roll out this special program for young hockey fans who know all about the game or who are just starting out as fans," Sr. Director of Florida Panthers Foundation & Community Relations John Colombo said in a release. "The rookie membership is free for all kids and add on options allow this program to be accessible and enjoyable for all."

To learn more and view membership options, visit FloridaPanthers.com/KidsClub.

DEALS ARE COMING

With the holiday shopping season about to begin, stay tuned for great deals on Panthers gear.

To stay on top of ticket and merchandise offers, subscribe to "93 Society" by clicking HERE or visiting FloridaPanthers.com/Offers.

PROSPECT SPOTLIGHT

Mike Benning is hitting his stride during his sophomore season at Denver.

Extending his point streak to three games while helping the No. 11 Pioneers remain undefeated on home ice this season, the 19-year-old defenseman flew up and down the ice while posting a career-high three points (one goal, two assists) during a 7-1 over Miami University on Saturday.

Tweet from @DU_Hockey: Mike Benning cleans up in front - 4th goal of the period for Denver!Pios have 29 goals scored in the 2nd period this season. (22 combined in 1st & 3rd) pic.twitter.com/kD8715YJ6H

Producing one goal and four assists during his current point streak, Benning is currently tied for first in scoring among Denver's blueliners with 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 12 contests.

Scooped up by the Panthers in the third round (95th overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft, he's already matched the 11 points he recorded as a freshman in 2020-21 in nine fewer games this season. Of Benning's five goals this season, four have come at even strength.

CATS CLIP OF THE WEEK

Thanks to everyone that came out to last week's "Stache Dash 5k" at FLA Live Arena.

As part of Hockey Fights Cancer month, the event, which was presented by Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, raised funds for men's cancer research and prevention.

Video: 2021 Stache Dash 5K

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @JensenRayburn: 📍Stache Dash 5K 2021📍 pic.twitter.com/Io1tZcCCW4

Tweet from @VoiceofCross: Stache dash success!!!#TimeToHunt #StacheDash @FlaPanthers @JamesonCoop @PantherPourri pic.twitter.com/YjToxYnAi4

Tweet from @atperez_md: Grateful to the @FlaPanthers for their partnership with @SylvesterCancer #FLAStacheDash 5K raising funds for cancer research! pic.twitter.com/KTgIoghxuC

TERRITORY TALK

Brandon Montour made his debut on the Territory Talk podcast last week.

Hear what the Panthers defenseman had to say about the team's red-hot hot start, his own personal success on the blue line, his life outside the rink in South Florida and much more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- 5 TAKEAWAYS: Panthers Top Wild for 10th Straight Win at Home 

- Q&A: Luostarinen Talks Lighting the Lamp, Living in South Florida & More 

- Doug Plagens' Panthers Mailbag: Knight Bounces Back, Favorite Video Games 

- Barkov 'Week to Week' with Lower-Body Injury 

- Panthers Announce 'Magical Hockey Stick Challenge' 

- Panthers Announce Feltman's Value Pack for 2021-22 Season 

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