Sat, 19 Sep 2020

Panthers hit road, face Red Wings to start trip

Field Level Media
18 Jan 2020, 15:55 GMT+10

The Florida Panthers have made steady progress in the Atlantic Division standings. They'll try to keep the momentum going during a six-game road trip that spans either side of the All-Star break.

The Panthers have won three straight and 10 of their last 14 to move into fourth place in the Atlantic. They begin their road swing in Detroit on Saturday. They'll also make stops in Minnesota and Chicago before getting some time off, then return for games in Montreal, Toronto and Columbus.

In their latest victory on Thursday, Florida opened up a four-goal lead over the Kings, then held off a late Los Angeles charge to notch a 4-3 win.

"We feel pretty good," Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad told the team's website. "Up until the last three minutes there, we were really buzzing and making things happen. I think we'll just forget about the end of that, learn from it and move on. It's great to have these wins and do it at home."

The Panthers have played 26 of their 46 games at home, so they will need to thrive on the road the rest of the way to continue their playoff push. They've gone 9-8-3 in road contests.

"These are important games for us," Florida coach Joel Quenneville said. "We've got to play, for the most part, like we did on the end of this homestand. Every game is going to be important, and the value of those points is going to be huge for us."

Center Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers with 62 points, but winger Mike Hoffman has been the steadiest offensive force over the past few weeks. He'll look to extend his point streak to eight games at Detroit.

Florida owns a 2-0-0 lead in the four-game season series with the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky, who is currently dealing with an upper body injury, made 22 saves in a 4-0 shutout on Nov. 2. Hoffman had a goal and two assists in a 5-4 victory on Dec. 28.

The Red Wings have lost three straight, but they took the Penguins to overtime before falling 2-1 on Friday. Jimmy Howard, who was removed after giving up three early goals to the New York Islanders in Detroit's previous game, made 35 saves against Pittsburgh.

Howard, who started the season as team's top goaltender, has recorded just two victories. His outing on Friday was arguably his best of the year.

"He wants to play at the level he's proven he's capable of. He certainly did that tonight," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "I hope he can build on this and get rolling."

Rookie forward Filip Zadina had the only goal for Detroit on a power play. Zadina, 20, has scored six goals since being elevated from the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins in late November. He has scored half of his goals in the past six games, a welcome sight for a rebuilding team. Zadina was the sixth overall pick in the 2018 draft.

"You can see the confidence with the puck," Blashill said. "He's making the right plays. He's not careless with it, he's just confident with it."

--Field Level Media

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