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Panthers Take Balanced Attack, Point Streak into Vancouver

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

VANCOUVER - Brian Boyle has seen a lot during his 13 seasons in the NHL.

The 34-year-old center has suited up in 769 career games split between seven different clubs, not including the 114 he's skated in the postseason. He's also reached the Stanley Cup Final twice and has had the pleasure of sharing the ice with some of the best players in the game.

So when Boyle thinks the Florida Panthers have something special going on, you know it's true.

"The depth and the ability and the skill level, you see it throughout the league, and you see it here on this team," said Boyle, who signed a one-year contract with the Panthers just a little over a week ago on Oct. 20. "I've only been here a week, but it's very evident… Up and down the lineup, there's a lot of ability. I think everybody wants to contribute and expects to."

The Panthers (5-2-4) have been receiving offensive contributions from all over the lineup during the team's current eight-game point streak, a stretch of success they'll aim to extend when they close out a back-to-back set against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday night.

In Sunday's 6-2 win at Edmonton, Florida had six different goal scorers. Following a scoreless opening frame, the team found twine on three straight shots from Aaron Ekblad, Boyle and Noel Acciari to take an imposing 3-0 lead just 2:36 after the puck had dropped in the second period.

According to NHL PR, the three goals were the fastest ever to start a period in franchise history.

"Everyone was upbeat," Acciari said. "We wanted to make sure we kept it in their zone and played offense as much as possible. They're a good transition team, so we wanted to be strong with the puck in the offensive zone. To get those goals that quickly was big for our team."

Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau each also picked up a point in the win. The top-line duo is tied for the team-scoring lead with 13 points apiece. Huberdeau has tallied five goals and eight assists, while Barkov leads the club and ranks tied for third in the NHL with 13 assists.

One of the hottest offensive teams in the league at the moment, Florida has recorded at least four goals in five of its last six games. Behind that strong scoring surge, they are currently tied for the fourth-best offense in the league, lighting the lamp an average of 3.64 times per game.

Through 11 games, the Panthers have had 15 players score at least one goal.

"I thought we had a heck of a game tonight in a lot of ways," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had good offensive zone time and a lot of nice plays, some good individual plays on the goals. Bob [Sergei Bobrovsky] also made some big, key saves early in the game."

After stopping 24 of 26 shots against the Oilers, Bobrovsky is expected to concede the crease to backup Sam Montembeault in Vancouver. Montembeault has appeared in three games this season and started the second game of each of Florida's previous two back-to-back sets so far.

A third-round pick (77th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft, Montembeault owns a 1-0-1 record with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage this season. In his last outing, the 22-year-old rookie made 25 saves in a 3-2 shootout win against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 19.

The Canucks (6-3-1), meanwhile, have won six of their last eight games, but are coming off a 6-5 shootout loss to Washington on Friday. Despite trailing by four goals late in the second period, the Capitals rallied late to erase that deficit and force overtime before earning the eventual win.

"It's a 60-minute hockey game for a reason and [Washington] won the Stanley Cup for a reason," Canucks captain Bo Horvat told reporters after the game. "They've got some good players over there. We had to play a full 60 to beat that squad."

Tim Schaller netted a pair of goals for Vancouver in the loss, while Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Jake Virtanen also scored. Pettersson and J.T. Miller are currently tied for the team-scoring lead with 11 points, while Horvat has the most goals (5).

Thatcher Demko is expected to get the start in net for the Canucks against the Panthers. The 23-year-old has appeared in three games this year, going 2-1-0 with a .943 save percentage.

Thanks to some strong goaltending - a tandem that also includes starter Jacob Markstrom - Vancouver possesses the fourth-ranked defense in the league, allowing an average of 2.40 goals per game. Over their last eight games, they've surrendered two or fewer goals six times.

Florida has earned at least one point in six of seven road games this season, going 3-1-3.

"We're not thinking about it too much," Acciari said of the team's streak. "We just want to play our game and continue on what we've accomplished. We just want to keep it going on this trip."

NOTES

-- Frank Vatrano has registered five points (two goals, three assists) over his last six games.

-- Evgenii Dadonov enters tonight's game ranking first on the Panthers in goals (6) and tied for third in points (9). Over seven road games, the 30-year-old has posted a team-best five goals.

-- Denis Malgin is riding a career-best five-game point streak into tonight's game. In that span, he's racked up two goals and four assists. In nine games this season, the 22-year-old forward is producing at nearly a point-per-game pace, recording eight points (three goals and five assists).

-- Aaron Ekblad ranks eighth in the league in average ice time per game (25:09).

-- MacKenzie Weegar ranks first among Florida's defenseman in goals (3) and points (8).

-- Mike Hoffman ranks tied for second on the Panthers in goals (5), while also sitting tied for first in goals (2) and points (3) on the power play. The 29-year-old also leads the team in shots (32).

-- Dryden Hunt leads the Panthers in hits (23); Anton Stralman paces the team in blocks (20).

PROJECTED LINEUP (NO MORNING SKATE)

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

Mark Pysyk - Anton Stralman

Keith Yandle - Josh Brown

Goalies

Sam Montembeault

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratches: Vincent Trocheck (lower-body), Mike Matheson (lower-body), Riley Stillman

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: Monday, Oct. 28, 7:00 p.m. ET

Where: Rogers Arena - Vancouver, BC

TV: FSF

Alternate Channels: DTV 654-1; AT&T 721; AT&T HD 1721

Stream: FOX Sports GO

Panthers Radio Network: 790 WAXY (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys)

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