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Panthers 'Looking for a Response' as Road Trip Ends in Colorado

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

10/30/19 Morning Skate

10/30/19 Morning Skate

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, forward Jonathan Huberdeau and forwards Keith Yandle and MacKenzie Weegar.

  • 01:40 •

DENVER - The Florida Panthers will look to shake off a tough loss and end their four-game road trip on a high note when they visit the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Wednesday night.

On Monday, the Panthers (5-3-4) were handed just their third regulation loss of the season, as their stellar eight-game point streak came to an abrupt end with a 7-2 loss at the Vancouver Canucks.

"The game we played the other night was a tough game," Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau said after today's morning skate. "I don't think we showed up. That can't happen, especially right now. This is going to be a big test for us, showing how we can come back from a game like that. It doesn't really matter the team that [we're playing], we've just got to focus on us tonight."

Newest Panther Brian Boyle lit the lamp in Vancouver and now has goals in each of his last two contests. With Vincent Trocheck expected to sit out his fifth straight game tonight while dealing with a lower-body injury, Boyle was once again centering the second line during morning skate.

Signing a one-year contract with Florida on Oct. 20, the 34-year-old veteran has certainly hit the ground running with his new team despite missing out on a traditional training camp. In the four games that he's played in, he's registered three points while winning 55 percent of his faceoffs.

Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said Boyle has "immediately" fit in with the team.

"He's got positional awareness in both ends of the rink and seems to do the right things when he has the puck," Quenneville said. "Obviously, he has some timely goals as well. I think he's added something to our team, especially in the middle. You can use him in a lot of different ways. He certainly brings a lot of different intangibles that we appreciate as well."

Huberdeau is currently tied with captain Aleksander Barkov for the team-scoring lead with 13 points, while Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov are tied for the most goals with six apiece. On the blue line, MacKenzie Weegar leads Florida's defensemen in both goals (3) and points (8).

"I think we're looking for compete-level. We lacked that last game," Weegar said. "It'll be a test for us tonight. They've got a good team. If we compete for 60 minutes, I think we'll be alright."

This will be the second and final time Florida faces Colorado this season.

In the first meeting between the clubs, Nathan MacKinnon found the back of the net at the 3:03-mark of overtime to send the Avalanche to a 5-4 victory on Oct. 18 at BB&T Center in Sunrise.

"We're just going to come out, battle hard and stick to our systems," Weegar said.

Colorado (8-2-1) has lost two of its last three games entering tonight's matchup, including a 5-2 loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. That game marked the Avalanche's first loss on home ice this season and snapped a 10-game winning streak at home dating back to last year.

MacKinnon scored against the Ducks to extend his season-opening point streak to 11 games - the fifth-longest streak to start a campaign in franchise history. Leading the team in both goals (6) and points (15), he's the only player in the NHL with a point in each game so far this season.

Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle said it will take a team effort to contain MacKinnon.

"He's probably one of the most, if not the most, dynamic players in the league when he's got the puck on his stick," he said. "He demands a lot of attention. It's one of those things that, for us, we've got to do a good job of having five guys on him, not just one or two. We've got to help each other and try to limit him to not getting as much speed through the neutral zone and stuff like that."

Tied with Nashville for the highest-scoring offense in the NHL, the Avalanche are currently averaging 4.0 goals per game and have tallied four or more goals in seven of 11 contests.

That being said, Colorado will be without two-thirds of its high-flying top line tonight against the Panthers, as forwards Mikko Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog, who've combined for eight goals and 19 points, are both currently sidelined while recovering from lower-body injuries.

"We wish them a speedy recovery, but there's a job a at hand here," Avalanche forward Tyson Jost said. "We've got to step up. I know everybody in this room is ready to take on that challenge… [The Panthers] are a fast team. They're really good on the rush. Their transition game is really, really good… Last time we played them in Florida, it was a fast game."

Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start in net for the Panthers after helping the team earn at least a point in each of his last six starts, going 3-0-3 in that span. At the other end of the ice, Philipp Grubauer, who's gone 6-1-1 this season, will likely be between the pipes for the Avalanche.

Florida has earned at least one point in six of eight road games this season, going 3-2-3.

"We're looking for a response," Quenneville said. "We're certainly not pleased with the game the other night, and I think that's not the way we want to finish it. We were disappointed with the way that we began the game. The effort was ordinary. It was a tough game, so let's make sure we respond the right way. We've got a chance to make this a real productive and positive trip."

NOTES

-- Evgenii Dadonov enters tonight's game ranking tied for first on the Panthers in goals (6) and second in points (10). Over eight road games, the 30-year-old has tallied a team-best five goals.

-- Denis Malgin has registered six points (two goals, four assists) over his last six games.

-- Jayce Hawryluk has notched three points (one goal, one assist) over his last two games.

-- Frank Vatrano has tallied three points (two goals, one assist) over his last four games.

-- Aaron Ekblad ranks 10th in the league in average ice time per game (24:47).

-- Mike Hoffman ranks first on the Panthers in power-play goals (3).

-- Dryden Hunt leads the Panthers in hits (25); Noel Acciari paces the team in blocks (22).

-- The Panthers currently rank fifth in the league in shots per game (34).

PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov

Mike Hoffman - Brian Boyle - Brett Connolly

Frank Vatrano - Denis Malgin - Jayce Hawryluk

Dryden Hunt - Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour

Defensemen

MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad

Riley Stillman - Anton Stralman

Keith Yandle - Mark Pysyk

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratches: Vincent Trocheck (lower-body), Mike Matheson (lower-body), Josh Brown

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

- Oct. 26: The Panthers acquired F Jack Rodewald from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for the rights to F Chris Wilkie.

- Oct. 24: D Riley Stillman was recalled from AHL Springfield.

- Oct. 22: The Panthers acquired F Aleksi Saarela from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for D Ian McCoshen.

HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN

When: Wednesday, Oct. 30, 10:00 p.m. ET

Where: Pepsi Center - Denver, CO

TV: FSF

Stream: FOX Sports GO

Panthers Radio Network: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys)

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