SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers penalty kill has been red-hot lately and could face another big test against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
Dallas comes into the game with the league’s second-best power play — a distinction previously held by Florida’s opponent last Saturday, the Edmonton Oilers.
The Stars have been riding a league-best 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) run since the start of November to jump to the top of the rankings.
Much of Dallas’ recent success has been thanks in part to an old friend of the Panthers — Mason Marchment.
The former Florida forward already has two power play goals through 16 games, including one on Tuesday in Tampa.
He has found chemistry with longtime Stars headliner Tyler Seguin on both the second power play unit and the second line.
”Seguin is a shooter and Marchment is a guy that likes to go get pucks and get them to guys like Tyler to shoot it,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said.
“They spent all summer training together, so there is a real relationship there already, which I think has helped early on.”
Marchment is fifth on a deep Stars team in goals (5) and tied for seventh (9) in points.
The Stars are one of four teams to feature multiple 20-point scorers in young guns Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz and feature veteran playmakers in Seguin, Jamie Benn and Joe Pavelski, who trails just behind at 19 points, to complement them.
”That is the strength of that team,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.
”You have Benn, Pavelski and Seguin all on different lines and you have good, young players around them. They have speed and they have skill and there is a mentor there on all three lines. They have the ability to run four lines and score off all of them.”
As hot as Dallas’ power play has been, Florida’s penalty kill has been just as strong as of late.
Going into Nov. 5’s matchup with the Los Angeles Kings, the Panthers had the third-worst penalty kill in the league at a 70.7 percent clip.
Since then, Florida have gone 19-for-21 (90.5 percent), ranking third in that span and jumping from 30th to 20th on the season.
“I think we have had more continuity with what we are trying to do with Eetu Luostarinen and Eric Staal up front very consistently,” Maurice said.
”We are really trending in the right direction, but this will be a good challenge today. Dallas would have the highest rate of pucks to the net. They have a lot of action right around the net. They have a great tip man in the slot that gives them size at the netfront and they have young players who can send pucks in there.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
DALLAS STARS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- DraftKings odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-180); Puck line (-1.5, +135); Over/Under 6 (-110/-110)
- Last season: Split 1-1
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 24-19-2, 3 tie
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 19 Matthew Tkachuk
94 Ryan Lomberg // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart
27 Eetu Luostarinen // 9 Sam Bennett // 6 Colin White
21 Nick Cousins // 12 Eric Staal // 70 Patric Hornqvist
42 Gus Forsling // 62 Brandon Montour
5 Aaron Ekblad // 18 Marc Staal
28 Josh Mahura // 7 Radko Gudas
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Injured: Anthony Duclair (LTIR-Achilles)
PROJECTED DALLAS STARS LINEUP
21 Jason Robertson // 24 Roope Hintz // 16 Joe Pavelski
27 Mason Marchment // 91 Tyler Seguin // 22 Matej Blumel
14 Jamie Benn // 53 Wyatt Johnston // 10 Ty Dellandrea
25 Joel Kiviranta // 12 Radek Faksa // 11 Luke Glendening
20 Ryan Suter // 4 Miro Heiskanen
44 Joel Hanley // 5 Nils Lundkvist
23 Esa Lindell // 2 Jani Hakanpaa
41 Scott Wedgewood
29 Jake Oettinger