The Florida Panthers will look to stretch their point streak to three games when they close out a three-game road trip against the New Jersey Devils on Monday afternoon at Prudential Center.
The Panthers (1-2-2) picked up a point in each of the first two stops on their trip, falling in back-to-back shootouts in Buffalo and on Long Island on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Heading into a matchup against the struggling Devils, Joel Quenneville wants players to simplify their game.
"It's being around the puck, keeping the puck, protecting it and supporting it in all zones," the Panthers head coach told reporters this morning. "Basically, you don't have to make fancy plays that can lead to turnovers in the neutral zone, approaching their blue line or inside your blue line. That's where you've got to simplify. Sometimes getting the puck in deep is a good play."
Lighting the lamp in the third period to tie the game and force overtime against the Islanders, Evgenii Dadonov enters tonight's matchup carrying a very hot stick. Riding a three-game goal and point streak into the Garden State, the 30-year-old ranks second on Florida in scoring with five points.
Dadonov is also tied for the team-lead in shots (21).
"He's moving and skating," Quenneville said of Dadonov, who set a career-high with 70 points in 2018-19. "He looks like he's getting some speed through the neutral zone. He made a nice move on his shot [in New York]. His high-end speed has been noticeable. That's something we can add to our game."
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start after backing up rookie Sam Montembeault on Saturday. In four starts this season, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner owns a 1-2-1 record. In his last outing, the 31-year-old posted his best start yet, stopping 30 of 32 shots in Buffalo on Friday.
In his career against the Devils, he's been simply outstanding, owning a 16-5-1 record behind a stellar 2.14 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. He's also notched three shutouts.
As for the Devils (0-3-2), they are the only team in the Eastern Conference still without a win.
Still finding their footing on offense, they've been outscored 21-9 to start the season and have been shut out in two of their last three games entering tonight's contest, including a 3-0 loss in Boston on Saturday. One reason for that lack of goals is their power play, which sits at 0-for-15.
Kyle Palmieri, Blake Coleman and Taylor Hall are tied for New Jersey's scoring lead with three points apiece. Hall paces the club in assists (3) and shots on goal (21), while Palmieri, Cole and Nikita Gusev are locked in a three-way tie for the lead in goals with two. Jack Hughes, the top pick in the 2019 draft, has fired off 10 shots on goal but is still searching for his first NHL point. The Devils have also gone 8-for-16 on the penalty kill, ranking 31st in the league at 50 percent.
In between the pipes, Cory Schneider will start his fourth game for New Jersey.
The Panthers owned a 1-1-1 record against the Devils in 2018-19.
"It's three [games] in three and a half days and you want to play with a lot of energy," Quenneville said of the mindset heading into today's contest. "Starts are always important."
-- Mike Hoffman leads the Panthers in scoring with seven points and is currently tied for third in the NHL in goals (5) and power-play goals (2). The 29-year-old winger posted the best season of his career in 2018-19, setting new highs in goals (36), power-play goals (17) and points (70).
-- Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers and ranks tied for 17th in the league with five assists. Three of those helpers have come on the power play. In 2018-19, the 26-year-old winger tallied a career-high 92 points, including 37 points on the power play and a franchise-record 62 assists.
-- Noel Acciari ranks first on Florida with 12 hits. The 27-year-old center joined the Panthers on a three-year deal this summer after spending the first four seasons of his career with Boston. In his final season with the Bruins, he reached new career-highs in both points (14) and hits (221).
-- Vincent Trocheck has recorded three points (one goal, two assists) in five games. The 26-year-old center also leads Florida and ranks tied for sixth in the league with eight takeaways.
-- Aaron Ekblad leads the Panthers in average ice time per game (25:23).
-- Aleksander Barkov leads Florida in the faceoff circle, winning 54 percent of his draws.
-- Florida has gone 10-for-12 (83.3 percent) on the penalty kill, ranking tied for 11th in NHL.
-- The Panthers own a 36-47-7-8 all-time record against the Devils.
PROJECTED LINEUP (NO MORNING SKATE)
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Mike Hoffman
Frank Vatrano - Vincent Trocheck - Brett Connolly
Jayce Hawryluk - Denis Malgin - Evgenii Dadonov
Dryden Hunt - Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour
MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad
Mike Matheson - Anton Stralman
Keith Yandle - Josh Brown
Scratches: Henrik Borgstrom, Mark Pysyk
- Sept. 29: F Anthony Greco, F Owen Tippett, F Dominic Toninato and D Riley Stillman were loaned to AHL Springfield.
- Sept. 28: F Anthony Greco was recalled from AHL Springfield.
- Sept. 26: F Anthony Greco, D Ian McCoshen and G Chris Driedger were loaned to AHL Springfield.
HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN
When: Monday, Oct. 14, 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Prudential Center - Newark, NJ
Panthers Radio Network: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys)