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Panthers Looking For Another Strong Defensive Effort Against Ducks

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

11/21/19 Morning Skate

11/21/19 Morning Skate

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, forward Noel Acciari and defenseman Mike Matheson.

  • 01:50 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Florida Panthers will look to build off a very strong defensive effort in their previous outing when they play host to the Anaheim Ducks at BB&T Center on Thursday night.

Picking up their fourth win over their last five games, the Panthers lit up the scoresheet once again - while not giving up too many good looks in a 5-2 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday.

With the win, Florida improved to 11-5-5 and moved into second place in the Atlantic Division.

"I thought we did a good job of denying them their rush game," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said of the team's defensive approach in beating the Flyers. "I thought in our own end they had a lot of shots, but I don't think they had the quality that you can give up. Having the puck in the offensive zone is the best defense we can look to have. That's been improving in our game."

Of the 37 shots that Philadelphia fired on net, just eight of them came from high-danger areas.

And even when they managed to get a good shot off, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was there to make the save. Stopping 35 shots - including all 14 he faced in the third period - the 31-year-old veteran earned his second straight win and improved to 7-2-3 over his last 13 appearances.

Bobrovsky is expected to be between the pipes once again tonight against the Flyers.

"We really didn't give them too much," Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson said. "For the most part, even when they got into our zone, we kept them to the outside. I think that's been a bit of our Achilles heel, giving up slot chances too often. That's pretty tough on our goalies to ask them to save those… I think we did a good job of limiting those chances last game."

But as Quenneville previously noted, the best defense can often be a good offense.

Enter Florida's dynamically dangerous top-scoring line.

While the Panthers have found success in having a deep team with four lines that can score, the top line is still doing a lot of the damage. Jonathan Huberdeau leads the team in scoring with 28 points. Behind him, linemates Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov have tallied 27 and 20 points, respectively. Overall, the talented trio has combined for 27 goals and 48 assists this season.

Thanks in large part to that line's production, the Panthers enter tonight's matchup in a tie for second in the league in goals per game, lighting the lamp an average of 3.62 times per contest.

"It's been a good situation," Quenneville said of the top line's success. "I think they like playing with one another. Everybody does a little bit something different. They have good patience with the puck. They all have play recognition. They really know where each other are a lot."

The Ducks (10-10-2) have lost six of their last seven games, including a 5-2 loss at Washington on Monday. Against the Capitals, Sam Steel and Nicolas Deslauriers scored for Anaheim, while goaltender John Gibson stopped 26 of 30 shots to pick up his 10th loss in 17 starts this season.

Still, the numbers don't quite tell the whole story for Gibson, who owns a .913 save percentage and was described as "outstanding" by Quenneville. But with defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson injured, the team's banged-up blue line has allowed 25 goals over the past six games.

When asked about the Ducks, Quenneville described them as a "dangerous team."

"Up front they've got a lot of guys that can make plays," he said. "They're missing some guys on the backend. Their goaltending's been outstanding. Like the last three, four, five games, we always talk about playing in the offensive zone, keeping the puck. That's the mindset."

Jakob Silfverberg paces Anaheim in both goals (9) and points (17). After him, Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell each have 15 points, while Adam Henrique has chipped in 14. Other than that, no player has more than 10 points. By comparison, Florida has eight players in double digits.

Catching fire as the calendar starts to inch closer to December, the Panthers have been one of the NHL's top teams in November, going 5-2-1 while ranking second in the league in power-play goals (9), third in power-play percentage (32.1) and first in faceoff win percentage (54.8).

"We're kind of on a roll," Panthers center Noel Acciari said. "We want to take advantage of this home ice we have… It's been great so far. We're going to try and keep that rolling."

NOTES

-- Keith Yandle leads Florida's defensemen in points (18), including one goal and 13 assists over his last 10 games. Named the NHL's "Third Star of the Week" on Monday, the 33-year-old also ranks tied for second among the league's blueliners in points on the power play with 11.

-- Jonathan Huberdeau has earned at least one point in 17 of Florida's 21 games this season. Leading the team in scoring with 28 points, he's also tied for the lead in goals with 10. Over his last nine games, the 26-year-old winger has racked up five goals and 10 assists.

-- Mike Hoffman enters tonight's matchup on a five-game point streak, posting three goals and three assists in that span. The 29-year-old winger has found the back of the net in each of the last two games to push his goal total to nine on the season, including five on the power play.

-- Aaron Ekblad has posted eight points (two goals, six assists) over his last 15 games. The 23-year-old defenseman has notched 10 points (two goals, eight assists) this season, while also leading the Panthers in average ice time per game (24:11).

-- Aleksander Barkov ranks second on the Panthers in points (27). His 20 assists lead the team and rank fifth in the league. Over his last 13 games, the 24-year-old center has produced seven goals and 14 assists.

-- Evgenii Dadonov ranks third on Florida in points (20) and tied for first in goals (10). Producing at better than a point-per-game clip over his last 12 games, the 30-year-old winger has tallied six goals and seven assists in that span.

-- Brett Connolly enters tonight's matchup riding a three-game point streak, notching two goals and two assists in that span. The 27-year-old winger ranks fourth on Florida in goals with eight.

-- Brian Boyle leads the Panthers in faceoff win percentage (60.5).

-- Florida has scored at least one power-play goal in nine of its last 10 games.

PROJECTED LINEUP

Forwards

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov

Brian Boyle - Vincent Trocheck - Brett Connolly

Frank Vatrano - Denis Malgin - Mike Hoffman

Dominic Toninato - Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour

Defensemen

Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad

Mark Pysyk - Anton Stralman

Mike Matheson - Josh Brown

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratches: MacKenzie Weegar (upper-body), Jayce Hawryluk (upper-body)

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

- Nov. 18: F Dominic Toninato was recalled from AHL Springfield.

- Nov. 18: F Dryden Hunt was loaned to AHL Springfield.

IN-ARENA ACTIVATIONS

- 50/50 Raffle

- $5 Beer Thursday

- First Responders Night

- First Responders Jersey Auction at Foundation table outside Club Lexus and online HERE.

HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN

When: Thursday, Nov. 21, 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: BB&T Center - Sunrise, FL

TV: FSF

Stream: FOX Sports GO

Panthers Radio Network: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 1370 WAXE (Treasure Coast)

Tickets: HERE

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