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Vaulted: Panthers Set Franchise Record with 12 Straight Wins in 2015-16

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop /

Welcome to "Vaulted," a new series in which we take a look back a moments that are worthy of being enshrined within the Florida Panthers Virtual Vault, which is presented by Baptist Health.

For almost an entire month during the 2015-16 season, the Florida Panthers were unbeatable.

Making headlines and turning heads across the NHL, the Panthers set a franchise record and marched straight to the top of the Atlantic Division when they won 12 straight games from Dec. 15, 2015 through Jan. 10, 2016 - tied for the 10th-longest winning streak in the league's history.

"We couldn't lose," former Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov said of the team's performance during their scorching-hot streak. "It didn't matter if we didn't have our best game. We played some great teams that were also on winning streaks and we just felt like we really couldn't lose."

[The Vault: Shawn Thornton scores during Game 4 of Florida's 12-game winning streak]

Up front, Aleksander Barkov paced the team in scoring with 14 points during the streak, while also ending up tied with Jaromir Jagr for the most goals (6). Jonathan Huberdeau, who along with Barkov and Jagr formed the team's incredibly potent top line, led the way with 10 assists.

"We're just having fun right now," Huberdeau said after registering a goal and an assist to help lead the Cats to their 10th straight win with a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Jan. 5, 2016.

That being said, it was the club's work in the defensive zone that really shined during the run.

Led by a series of incredible showings from Roberto Luongo, the Panthers allowed just 15 goals during the 12-game streak while also scoring 38 of their own. Starting nine of the 12 games, the legendary goaltender went 9-0-0 with a 1.31 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.

During the entire streak, Florida trailed its opponents for just 14:02.

"I'm more worried about the standings list than career accomplishments," Luongo said after turning aside all 39 shots he faced to lift the Panthers to a 3-0 win over the New York Rangers on Jan. 2, 2016, one of his two shutouts during the streak. "Our goal is to be in the playoffs."

Of course, the Panthers did go on to reach the playoffs that season, finishing with a 47-26-9 record for a franchise-record 103 points. Fueled by their epic winning streak, the division win was just the second in franchise history, with the only other division crown coming in 2011-12.

Prior to its 12-game run, Florida's previous best winning streak was just seven games.

[The Vault: Check out Jaromir Jagr's game-worn jersey from the 2015-16 campaign]

"It was special for us. We wanted to do that all year. We fulfilled that dream,'' former Panthers center Nick Bjugstad said after the team clinched the division with a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on April 5, 2016. "We made the playoffs, won the division, and now we keep going."

In addition to rewriting their own history books, the Panthers also made a noticeable dent in a few NHL records during their unforgettable run, including becoming the first team to ever string together a winning streak of at least 12 games after missing the playoffs the previous season.

A full-team effort, a whopping 21 different skaters recorded at least one point during the streak.

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