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Big Weekend Coming for the Florida Panthers

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Chicago goaltender Alex Stalock makes a save on a shot by Sam Bennett during the second period of the Blackhawks’ 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 25. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CORAL SPRINGS — The Florida Panthers have won their past two games against Tampa Bay and Vegas, two teams they had no problems getting excited to play.

But with Chicago and Winnipeg coming to Sunrise this weekend, the Panthers say the same intensity needs to be there.

“We have been playing really good as a team, we have stayed positive and have battled real hard,” Anton Lundell said. “We have been all-in every game, playing simple and are enjoying the game. We know (Chicago) has been good the past few games and we have to be ready for a different style of team. They play more offense, have nothing to lose. They are full of energy.’’

The Panthers have 17 games remaining and, as of Thursday, are four points out of the first wild card spot.

If Florida wants to make the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, they have to win a vast majority of its final games.

This weekend offers what the team should expect to be four points.

Chicago sold at the deadline and in the midst of a rebuild with the second-fewest points in the NHL.

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But the Blackhawks snapped a four-game losing streak by stunning the Senators 5-0 on Monday night. Winnipeg is in a playoff fight of their own but has lost seven of eight.

The Panthers have already lost to both teams once this season.

On Thursday, Florida coach Paul Maurice — who was Winnipeg’s coach until December 2021 — said Chicago’s win over the then-streaking Senators was brought up in the team’s morning meeting.

Discount these teams at your own peril.

”Ottawa had beat Detroit back-to-back and scored six (goals in each), played incredibly well and are back in the fight,” Maurice said.

“They go into Chicago thinking ‘we’re going to win this game.’ These guys can score off the rush — and they have. They put up five on them. We dealt with that. It’s not a matter of taking them lightly, it is playing a style of game that Chicago is good at. We want to play the game we play.”

PRACTICE NOTES

The Panthers had almost perfect attendance at a rare workout at the IceDen on Thursday with Anthony Duclair missing with what Maurice said was an illness.

Sam Reinhart was running with the top line in his place on Thursday; Casey Fitzgerald worked on the fourth line.

“He has an illness, nothing we think is too serious,’’ Maurice said. “The point is, it is not the ankle. He’s not feeling great today, we’ll see where that takes us tomorrow.”

Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net Friday against the Blackhawks and it is very possible he goes on consecutive nights with Winnipeg in Sunrise on Saturday.

“We will not make any (decision) until after the first game,” Maurice said. “We’ll see the numbers, see the workload.”

PANTHERS ON DECK

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Friday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5 FM-2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 2-0
  • This season (Chicago leads 1-0): Blackhawks 4, Panthers 2 (Oct. 25)
  • All-time regular season series: Blackhawks lead 28-17-4, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Winnipeg, 7 p.m.

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