The Florida Panthers were not happy in allowing six goals to the Toronto Maple Leafs in their epic comeback win last week and have cut down on their goals allowed since.
In the three games since that win against the Leafs, Florida has surrendered a total of six in wins against Buffalo, Nashville and Anaheim.
Paying attention to their defense is something the Panthers are stressing with nine games remaining before the start of the postseason.
Florida, which has won its past eight games, welcomes the Winnipeg Jets to FLA Live Arena tonight.
“That week, we went down in two games by a lot of goals and no one on the back end — or anyone on the team — liked that,’’ Radko Gudas said after Thursday’s practice in Coral Springs.
“We addressed it and I think the whole group did a good job adjusting to little things, did a better job and hopefully we can continuing building on that.”
The Panthers know they are going to get a big-time push from the Jets tonight as Winnipeg continues to battle for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Winnipeg, with eight games left, have faint playoff hopes.
Still, the Jets are technically in it.
“We expect a desperate team,” Andrew Brunette said. “They’re hanging on for their playoff lives and this is a huge road trip for them. We expect a real focused, hard game.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, have nine games remaining and are looking more and more like a team headed toward the top spot in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
On Thursday night, the Maple Leafs beat Washington — which could be Florida’s first-round opponent unless the Capitals pass the Bruins — to pull within eight points of the Panthers in the division with one fewer game left.
Carolina, meanwhile, got beat by Detroit in regulation and remain six points back in the East.
The Hurricanes have played two more games than the Panthers have — and could be caught by the Rangers in the race for the Metropolitan. New York is now just two points back of the Canes.
WELCOME TO FORT LAUDERDALE
The Jets have had an unscheduled week in Florida after their home game on Wednesday night against Seattle was postponed due to a huge winter storm hitting Canada.
Instead of playing the Kraken, the Jets boarded a charter flight and headed to South Florida.
Per the Winnipeg Sun, not only did the Jets get some extra time to enjoy the local weather, they avoided a pretty daunting scheduling run of five games in seven nights.
“Obviously, the week that we had in front of us was going to be pretty daunting,” Josh Morrissey said per the Sun
“I think when you go to the east and then back home for one game and then again out here, it’s a lot of travel. It is what it is. … Hopefully, we can use a little bit of extra rest and practice time to be ready to go against obviously two very good teams.”
Ryan Lomberg, who missed Tuesday’s game against the Ducks, did not practice on Thursday and is not expected to play on Friday.
Brunette says Lomberg is day-to-day with a lower body injury.
— Noel Acciari, who has not played since leaving a game against the Canadiens on March 29, practiced on Thursday.
”It was a pleasant surprise, weren’t sure we would see him today or later on in the week,” Brunette said. “Nice to see him out there, thought he looked pretty good for missing almost two weeks. Good to get him some practice.”
— Goalie Jonas Johansson also practiced with the team for the first time since going on IR after a brief stint with AHL Charlotte last month.
Johansson, who has played in just one game with Florida since being claimed off waivers from Colorado in December, was pulled from his one game with the Checkers with a knee injury.
”It was nice to see him skate with the group,” Brunette said. “It has been a long, hard year for him just playing in one game with us and practicing. He has been a great sport, very professional. He has come to work every day preparing himself to play and has had a really wonderful attitude for our group.”
— Sergei Bobrovsky will start for the Panthers on Friday according to Brunette. Expect Spencer Knight to go Sunday afternoon in Detroit.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
WINNIPEG JETS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- Draft Kings odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-260); Puck line (-1.5, +100); Over/Under 6.5 (-130/+110)
- Last season: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Winnipeg/Atlanta Thrashers lead 50-30-8, 5 ties
- Season Series — Florida leads 1-0: Florida 5, @Winnipeg 3 (Jan. 25)
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 8 Sam Bennett // 28 Claude Giroux
17 Mason Marchment // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart
98 Maxim Mamin // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 70 Patric Hornqvist
8 Ben Chiarot // 52 MacKenzie Weegar
42 Gus Forsling // 62 Brandon Montour
7 Radko Gudas // 18 Robert Hagg
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Scratched: Joe Thornton, Petteri Lindbohm, Lucas Carlsson
Injured: Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Jonas Johansson (IR), Aaron Ekblad (LTIR), Noel Acciari (UBI), Ryan Lomberg (LBI)
PROJECTED WINNIPEG JETS LINEUP
81 Kyle Connor // 80 Pierre-Luc Dubois // 26 Blake Wheeler
71 Evgeny Svechnikov // 25 Paul Stastny // 27 Nikolaj Ehlers
13 Zach Sanford // 17 Adam Lowry // 22 Mason Appleton
36 Morgan Barron // 21 Dominic Toninato // 77 Adam Brooks
44 Josh Morrissey // 2 Dylan DeMelo
88 Nate Schmidt // 4 Neal Pionk
54 Dylan Samberg // 5 Brenden Dillon
37 Connor Hellebuyck
1 Eric Comrie