"We're getting contributions from guys that are having some big numbers offensively, but I didn't anticipate that situation to be the way it is," the Panthers head coach said. "I think we've still got to be better defensively, but I like the way the offense has been shared by a number of people."
There certainly have been plenty of goals to go around the team's locker room. As of right now, Florida's lineup features six different players that have registered at least 15 goals, including a team-high 21 from Evgenii Dadonov and 18 each from Jonathan Huberdeau and Mike Hoffman.
During their current four-game winning streak, they've have outscored the opposition 21-10.
"There's a lot of depth, a lot of different guys that have chipped in," Panthers winger Brett Connolly, who has contributed 16 goals this season, said of the offense. "That's what you need, especially in the playoffs… It's just a new guy every night. We're having a lot of fun with that."
In Saturday's 4-1 win at Detroit, four different Panthers posted goals, including some key depth scores from Mark Pysyk and Denis Malgin. Like Connolly said, it seems to be a new hero every night, a claim backed up by the fact they've had 12 different scorers during their winning streak.
Early goals have also been key, as they are 14-1-3 when taking a lead into the first intermission.
"It's a lot of fun to see a couple guys having career years," Connolly said. "It's just good to see your teammates do well. We've been pushing each other, and hopefully we keep doing that."
Having stopped 27 of 28 shots against the Red Wings after missing the previous two games with a lower-body injury, Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to be back between the pipes for the Panthers in Minnesota. Over his last nine starts, the 31-year-old has posted a 6-3-0 record.
With Bobrovsky getting back to form and the offense firing on all cylinders, the Panthers also appear poised to shed some of their longtime woes against the Wild. Owning an all-time record of 1-9-1-1 in Minnesota, their only win in the North Star State came in 2010, a 3-2 shootout win.
Just how long ago was that last win? Well, the fact that Panthers defenseman Riley Stillman's father, Cory, scored game-winning goal in the skills competition should give you a good idea.
But, of course, that was then, and this is now.
And these Panthers, full of confidence, aren't concerned with the past.
"I didn't even know that," Panthers defenseman Josh Brown said. "When you only play a team twice in the season, I guess things like that can happen. I'm not going to take that away from them. They've played well against us in the past, but hopefully we can change it up tonight."
As usual, the Wild (22-20-6) have been good once again this season on home ice. Despite owning a 9-15-2 record on the road, they've gone 13-5-4 in their own barn. And, following a four-game losing streak, they enter tonight's game with wins in each of their last two games.
Their last time out, Minnesota pieced together likely their best game of the season, dominating the visiting Dallas Stars by a score of 7-0. Seven different players lit the lamp for the Wild in that win, including forward Zach Parise, who leads the team with 18 goals to go along with 30 points.
For the Panthers, the special teams battle will be especially important tonight, as their sixth-ranked power play (24 percent) will go up against Minnesota's 26th-ranked penalty kill (75.5).
"We've got to stay out of the box, first of all, and probably keep it down to two minors or less," Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin said of facing down Florida's vaunted man advantage. "We need to pressure, get good sticks, block shots, just stuff you've got to do to have a good PK."
After pitching a 27-save shutout against the Stars, Alex Stalock is expected to make his third straight start for Minnesota. During that three-game stretch, the 32-year-old goaltender, who is 7-1-1 playing at home this season, has registered a 2-1-0 record with a .952 save percentage.
"It's a tough place to play, always is," Connolly said. "The fans will be loud. They're playing well. They're in the mix and these are big points for them as well. We have to expect their best. For us, it's huge points. Every game is so important. It's been a lot of fun that way."
The points are indeed getting more and more crucial for the Panthers as the second half of the season heats up. With a chance to push their season-high winning streak to five games tonight, their hot stretch has rocketed them into third place in the Atlantic Division with a 26-16-5 record.
And with two games left until the All-Star break, they're aiming to tighten their grip on that spot.
"Having a streak, that's what we wanted," said Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau, who leads the team with 64 points (18 goals, 46 assists). "Heading into the break, we'd like to be in a playoff spot. It's so tight in the standings… It's important to get these next four points."
After tonight's matchup in Minnesota, Florida will wrap up its road trip on Tuesday in Chicago.
-- Jonathan Huberdeau enters tonight's matchup on a four-game point streak (one goal, six assists). A 2020 NHL All-Star, the 26-year-old winger leads the Panthers in both assists (46) and points (64). Since Dec. 16, he paces the entire league in assists (20) and points (27).
-- Aleksander Barkov is also carrying a four-game point streak (two goals, four assists) into Minnesota. The 24-year-old center ranks second on Florida in both assists (36) and points (51), while also sitting second team on in power-play goals (T-7) and third in power-play points (17).
-- Keith Yandle ranks tied for fourth among the league's defensemen in assists (31) and is also tied for second in power-play points (19). The 33-year-old leads Florida's blueliners and ranks tied for eighth among the league's rearguards in scoring with 35 points (four goals, 31 assists).
-- Evgenii Dadonov leads the Panthers in goals (21) and power-play goals (9), and also ranks third in points (38). On a four-game point streak, the 30-year-old winger has notched three goals and one assist in that span. Over his last 13 games, he's found the back of the net nine times.
-- Noel Acciari has scored 12 goals over his last 15 games, pushing his total on the season to a career-high 17. The 28-year-old also leads Florida and ranks first among the league's forwards in blocks (71). Additionally, he also leads the team in hits (86), including 28 in his last 11 games.
-- Mike Hoffman enters tonight's tilt on a season-high, nine-game point streak (five goals, five assists). The 30-year-old winger ranks tied for second on the Panthers in goals (18) and power-play goals (7), while also unleashing the most shots on goal (127).
-- Frank Vatrano has notched five points (two goals, three assists) over his last three games. Posting 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) this season, Florida owns a 15-1-2 record when he registers at least one point. On Jan. 18, the 25-year-old winger earned his 100th NHL point.
-- Vincent Trocheck has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his last eight games. The 26-year-old winger also leads the Panthers in takeaways (40) and faceoff win percentage (54.7).
-- Aaron Ekblad leads the Panthers in ice time per game (22:59) this season. The 23-year-old also ranks second among the team's defensemen in goals (5), assists (21) and points (26).
-- Florida is 21-2-2 when scoring first this season.
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov
Brett Connolly - Vincent Trocheck - Noel Acciari
Frank Vatrano - Dominic Toninato - Mike Hoffman
Colton Sceviour - Brian Boyle - Mark Pysyk
Mike Matheson - Aaron Ekblad
Riley Stillman - Anton Stralman
Keith Yandle - Josh Brown
Scratches: Jayce Hawryluk, Denis Malgin, Chris Driedger (lower-body)
Injured Reserve: MacKenzie Weegar (upper-body)
- Jan. 15: G Sam Montembeault was recalled from AHL Springfield on emergency conditions.
- Jan. 13: G Sam Montembeault was loaned to AHL Springfield.
- Jan. 12: G Sam Montembeault was recalled from AHL Springfield on emergency conditions.
- Dec. 27: D Riley Stillman was recalled from AHL Springfield.
HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN
When: Monday, Jan. 20, 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Xcel Energy Center - St. Paul, MN
(Alternate Channels Below)
AT&T: 721 | AT&T HD: 1721
Stream: FOX Sports GO
Panthers Radio Network: 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