Looking to snap out of a four-game losing streak and get their playoff push back on track, the Panthers will attempt to turn their anger into two points in the standings when they wrap up a crucial back-to-back set against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday night.
After winning six straight going into the league's mid-season break, the Panthers have struggled a bit to settle back into that same rhythm since coming out of it. Going 1-4-1 over their last six games, they've scored just 10 goals in that span. In the six games before that, they netted 30.
Despite that drought, Florida is still averaging the fifth-most goals in the league per game (3.45).
"I know we're frustrated with a few things, but we have a great leadership group in here," Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar said. "We have great guys in this room. We pick everybody up. We're not too worried about it. We'll get scoring and finish off the right way here."
Moving back up to the team's top-defensive pairing for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on Dec. 23, Weegar opened the scoring or the Panthers in Philadelphia with his fourth goal of the season. Unfortunately, after that the Flyers tallied four unanswered goals.
Prior to that loss, Florida owned a 24-2-2 record when scoring first this season.
Still right on the cusp of a playoff spot, the Panthers (29-20-6) currently trail the Toronto Maple Leafs (29-19-8) by just two points for third place in the Atlantic Division with one game in hand.
"It's great to get the stats, but more important it's all about the two points," Weegar said.
Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers and ranks tied for ninth in the league with 68 points (19 goals, 49 assists), while Aleksander Barkov is just behind him with 55 (16 goals, 39 assists). In 18 career games against New Jersey, Huberdeau has registered seven goals and eight assists.
The Devils (20-24-10) currently occupy last place in the Metropolitan Division, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous. Entering tonight's matchup on an impressive six-game point streak, they've not only won each of their last two contests, they've shut out their opponents.
On Thursday, 23-year-old goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood stopped all 46 shots he faced to lead New Jersey to a 5-0 win in Philadelphia. Then, on Saturday, Blackwood was at it again, this time turning aside 37 shots -- including a penalty shot -- in a 3-0 win over Los Angeles.
Over his last four starts, Blackwood has gone 3-0-1 with a .947 save percentage.
"One thing I'll say about us the whole year, we haven't quit, we haven't stopped working," Blackwood told reporters after picking up the victory against the Kings. "We've been working through it all. Some of the things we've done there are mistakes that we've made on our own, but I think we're working towards being a little more consistent and playing the right way."
Ranking 24th in the league in goals per game (2.70), Kyle Palmieri leads the Devils in scoring with 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists), while Blake Coleman has netted the most goals (21). In his last 15 games, Coleman has been on quite the tear, lighting the lamp a whopping nine times.
While neither team has yet to announce a starting goaltender, Blackwood, who has manned the crease or 17 of his team's 20 wins this season, will likely get the nod in net for the Devils. And for the Panthers, it'll either be Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 30 saves in Monday's loss to the Flyers, or rookie backup Sam Montembeault, who's gone 4-2-1 this season, between the pipes.
"Turn it on and be ready to play," Bobrovsky said. "Find a way to get two points."
In their only previous meeting this season, Florida won 6-4 in New Jersey on Oct. 14.
-- Aleksander Barkov registered the 400th point of his NHL career on Monday in Philadelphia, joining Jonathan Huberdeau (427) and former Panthers captain Olli Jokinen (419) as one of only three players in franchise history to hit that mark. The next time he touches twine, the 24-year-old center will also match Pavel Bure for the third-most goals in franchise history (152).
-- Evgenii Dadonov leads the Panthers in goals (23) and power-play goals (10). In 27 games on the road this season, the 30-year-old winger has registered 23 points (14 goals, nine assists).
-- Mike Hoffman ranks second on Florida in goals (21), third in points (45) and first in shots (158). The 30-year-old winger has earned at least one point in 13 of his last 16 games, racking up eight goals and 10 assists in that span.
-- Noel Acciari ranks fourth on the Panthers with a career-high 18 goals. In addition to his offensive numbers, he also stands first among the league's forwards in blocked shots (83).
-- Keith Yandle ranks first among Florida's defensemen with 39 points (five goals, 34 assists). The 33-year-old also has the sixth-most power-play points (20) among the league's blueliners.
-- Aaron Ekblad leads Florida in average ice time per game (22:54). The 24-year-old registered the 200th point of his NHL career on Feb. 3 in Toronto, becoming just the third defenseman in franchise history to reach that mark. Of his 30 points this season, 15 have come on the road.
-- Frank Vatrano has recorded 10 points (five goals, five assists) over his past 11 games.
PROJECTED LINEUP (NO MORNING SKATE)
Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov
Brett Connolly - Vincent Trocheck - Noel Acciari
Frank Vatrano - Dominic Toninato - Mike Hoffman
Jayce Hawryluk - Colton Sceviour - Mark Pysyk
MacKenzie Weegar - Aaron Ekblad
Riley Stillman - Anton Stralman
Keith Yandle - Josh Brown
Scratches: Denis Malgin, Mike Matheson, Brian Boyle (upper-body)
Injured Reserve: Chris Driedger (lower-body)
- Jan. 30: G Sam Montembeault and D Riley Stillman were recalled from AHL Springfield.
- Jan. 22: G Sam Montembeault and D Riley Stillman were loaned to AHL Springfield.
HOW TO WATCH / LISTEN
When: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Prudential Center - Newark, NJ
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