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Panthers visit Flames, Look to Continue Success in Back-to-Backs

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

CALGARY - Even in defeat, the Florida Panthers may have found a recipe for success.

Following a 4-3 shootout loss in Edmonton on Thursday night, Panthers coach Bob Boughner had plenty of praise for his club, even as the sting of a late game-tying goal and shootout goal from two-time Art Ross winner Connor McDavid overshadowed what had been a great game.

At 5-on-5, the Panthers dominated the Oilers in both shots on goal (26-14) and shot attempts (46-34), managing the puck well but simply unable to hold onto the lead throughout the night. McDavid, who scored with eight seconds left to force overtime, had two goals and an assist.

"Unfortunate, the way it ended," Boughner said. "Eight seconds to go to get two points. I thought we played a heck of a road game. I think we gave up 18 shots in regulation. We produced some chances. We scored a big goal at the end. We did a lot of good things. I feel bad for the guys because I thought they worked hard. I thought they responded.

"We got contributions throughout the lineup, but we didn't find a way to win. That's what we talked about yesterday: finding ways to win games. Overtime's a tough game against these guys, obviously, with some of their skills, and a shootout's anybody's game. It's disappointing that we were eight seconds away from getting the two."

Looking to snap out of a four-game losing skid and get back in the playoff hunt, the Panthers believe a similar effort to the one they showed against the Oilers could yield a different result when they visit the high-scoring Calgary Flames on Friday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.

As it stands now, Florida (17-17-8) sits 10 points out of a wild card spot with a game in hand.

"I think we played good the whole game," said Panthers forward Denis Malgin. "It's hard to get the third goal with eight seconds from the end. That's hockey, but we have a point. We've just got to keep going. Tomorrow's a new game, and we've just got to try and win that."

While Malgin scored his fifth goal of the season on Thursday night, there were several other players that had great individual games, such as forward Frank Vatrano, who netted his 12th goal, and rookie Henrik Borgstrom, who continues look impressive.

Borgstrom, a former first-round pick who was recalled from the AHL on Dec. 15, tallied his fourth goal of the season against the Oilers, a go-ahead goal with 5:58 left in regulation that looked as if it would stand as the game-winner. But even without that goal, his overall game was fantastic.

Winning a team-high 64 percent of his faceoffs, the 21-year-old center helped his line dominate the puck-possession battle throughout the night, with Florida finishing with massive advantages in shots (10-1) and shot attempts (13-3) at 5-on-5 play when he was on the ice.

Still, despite one of the best games of his career, Borgstrom was focused on the point left behind.

"When the opposing team scores eight seconds before the end of the third, it's a pretty bad feeling," Borgstrom said. "You're thinking you already won the game, kinda, especially when you're on the bench and hoping to get the 'W.'"

In order to secure that much needed "W" when they close out their back-to-back set against the Flames, the Panthers, who own a sparkling 5-0-3 record in the second game of back-to-backs this season, know they will need to repurpose the responsible hockey they played in Edmonton.

The Flames (28-13-4) currently sit in first place in the Pacific Division, winning six of their last eight games behind their third-ranked offense, which boasts four 20-goal scorers and four 50-point players. A 2019 All-Star, Johnny Gaudreau leads Calgary in goals (26) and points (66).

The Panthers went 1-1-0 against the Flames last season, winning 6-3 on Feb. 17 in Calgary.

"I thought that everybody played well defensively, managed the puck, all those things," Boughner said of his team's performance in Edmonton. "We're going to have to hopefully bring that in to Calgary tomorrow night against a real good hockey club."

NOTES

-- Mike Hoffman ranks first on the Panthers in goals (20), power-play goals (10) and shots on goals (139). Scoring his 20th goal of the season on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, the 29-year-old winger became the fastest first-year Panther in franchise history reach the 20-goal mark.

-- Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov has registered 15 points (six goals, nine assists) over his last 12 games. The 23-year-old center also ranks third in the NHL in takeaways (60), while his 23:14 of ice time per game places him first in the NHL among forwards

-- Evgenii Dadonov ranks second on the Panthers in goals (17). Dating back to the start of the 2017-18 season, the 29-year-old winger leads the team with 45 goals, 33 even-strength goals and nine game-winning goals.

-- A 2019 NHL All-Star, Keith Yandle ranks first among Florida's blueliners in points (35) and assists (29), while his 22 power-play points on the season places him fifth in the NHL and first among all defensemen.

-- Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau has recorded 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) over his last 22 games. The 25-year-old winger also leads the team in points (46), assists (35) and multi-point games (17) this season.

-- Aaron Ekblad leads Florida's blueliners with eight goals. With one more goal, the 22-year-old will break a tie with Robert Svehla (61) for the most goals by a defenseman in franchise history.

-- Florida has gone a perfect 15-for-15 on the penalty kill over its last six games.

-- Troy Brouwer, who played for Calgary from 2016-2018, leads the Panthers with 82 hits.

GEICO GOALIE MATCHUP OF THE GAME (UNCONFIRMED)

Roberto Luongo (8-9-1, 3.37 GAA, .892 SV%) vs. David Rittich (16-4-3, 2.42 GAA, .921 SV%)

Luongo is expected to get the nod in net for the Panthers after backing up James Reimer on Thursday in Edmonton. The 39-year-old owns a 3-4-0 record over his last eight appearances, posting a .873 save percentage in that span. In 47 career games against Calgary, which is tied for his most games against any opponent, he has gone 27-16-4 with 2.61 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and one shutout.

Rittich is expected to make his fourth straight start for the Flames after stopping 32 of 35 shots during a 5-3 win over Colorado on Wednesday. The 26-year-old has won five of his last six starts -- including four in a row - while allowing at least three goals four times in that span. In two career starts against the Panthers he has gone 1-1-0 with a 4.19 goals-against average and .897 save percentage.

PROJECTED LINEUP (NO MORNING SKATE)

Forwards

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Denis Malgin

Mike Hoffman - Jared McCann - Evgenii Dadonov

Frank Vatrano - Henrik Borgstrom - Troy Brouwer

Jayce Hawryluk - Juho Lammikko - Colton Sceviour

Defense

Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson - Mark Pysyk

Bogdan Kiselevich - MacKenzie Weegar

Goalies

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratches: Ian McCoshen, Micheal Haley, Nick Bjugstad (upper body)

Injured Reserve: Derek MacKenzie (shoulder), Jamie McGinn (back), Vincent Trocheck (ankle)

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

- Jan. 7: D Ian McCoshen was recalled from Springfield (AHL)

- Jan. 7: D Chris Wideman was loaned to Springfield (AHL)

- Dec. 30: D Alexander Petrovic was traded to Edmonton for D Chris Wideman and a 2019 third-round pick.

- Dec. 29: G Michael Hutchinson was traded to Toronto for a 2020 fifth-round pick.

HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN

When: Friday, Jan. 11, 9:00 p.m.

Where: Scotiabank Saddledome - Calgary, AB

TV: Fox Sports Florida

Stream: HERE

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

Watch Party: Thanks to the new "Territory on Tap" program, every road game now offers a chance for a watch party in South Florida! To see which local bars and restaurants will have drink specials and giveaways for today's game, visit the official "Territory on Tap" page!

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