SUNRISE — Ever since Florida Panthers coach Andrew Brunette paired Claude Giroux and Jonathan Huberdeau together, the pair has been unstoppable.
They proved to be as such again in Florida’s 6-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Florida has now won nine consecutive games which is their longest winning streak of the season — surpassing the team’s 8-0 start.
Coincidentally, the Panthers have also won nine straight at home.
With the win, Florida came closer to clinching both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference regular season titles; the Panthers are up 10 points on Toronto in the division and eight up on Carolina in the East.
The Panthers have eight games left before the playoffs.
As for Huberdeau and Giroux, they’ve been a thing since March 31; in their eight games together, they have combined for 25 points.
Fifteen of those points belong to Huberdeau, who was on a 12-game point streak heading into the Florida Panthers.
It did not take him long to extend the streak to 13.
Huberdeau picked up a Giroux rebound and put it past Connor Hellebuyck to give the Panthers the lead 2:03 into the game.
Just over two minutes later, Huberdeau and Giroux got right back to work.
Giroux sent a pass right through the legs of an outstretched Winnipeg defender and onto the stick of Huberdeau, who potted it home 4:47 into the game.
It appeared the Panthers took a 3-0 lead a minute later when Hellebuyck carried the puck past the goal line, but it was ruled goaltender interference as Maxim Mamin pushed him into the net.
Sam Reinhart and Mason Marchment had a two-on-one 6:57 into the game with another chance to make it 3-0, but Reinhart missed the wide-open net.
Four seconds later, Carter Verhaeghe hooked Nate Schmidt and the Panthers found themselves on the penalty kill for the first time.
During the ensuing penalty kill, MacKenzie Weegar blocked a Neal Pionk slapshot that sent him hobbling to the Florida dressing room as the Winnipeg power play was expiring.
The Panthers avoided disaster as Weegar returned to the bench minutes later.
Less than a minute into the second, Gus Forsling took a tripping penalty and the Panthers found themselves on the penalty kill for the third time.
They survived five shots from the Winnipeg power play, which included a couple of big saves from Sergei Bobrovsky to keep Florida in the lead.
As Forsling was getting out of the box, Reinhart sent him a stretch pass — where he drove in and scored on a pretty backhand shot to put Florida up by three 2:56 into the second period.
Forsling found the back of the net again with 3:36 to go in the second, firing off a wrist shot from the slot off of a Huberdeau feed to make it 4-0.
Winnipeg outshot Florida 18-13 and led 16-10 in scoring chances in the second period but Bobrovsky came up with multiple big saves to keep Florida’s lead intact.
Hellebucyk was replaced to start the third period — and it looked like it may have helped the Jets as Nikolaj Ehlers scored 1:08 in to spoil Bobrovsky’s shutout bid.
Not to worry: less than a minute later, Mason Marchment (who had an earlier goal taken away due to Anton Lundell’s high-stick pass) got the four-goal lead back.
And, not long later, Mamim got his goal back as well as he drove in and beat Eric Comrie with 13 minutes left to play.
COLBY’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida
2. Gus Forsling, Florida
3. Claude Giroux, Florida
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT DETROIT RED WINGS
- When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
- Where: Little Ceasers Arena, Detroit
- TV/Streaming: ESPN
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- 2021 regular season series: Florida won 6-2
- Season Series — Florida leads 2-0: Florida 3, @Detroit 2 (Oct. 29); @Florida 6, Detroit 2 (March 5)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 31-19-6, 5 ties