It was only a few weeks ago that it appeared teams like Buffalo, Washington, Detroit and Ottawa would be some of the biggest challengers to the Florida Panthers in their chase for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
All of those teams — save for the Capitals — had games in hand on Florida and were playing their best hockey of the season.
They are not anymore.
Those games in hand?
Squandered, for the most part.
On Sunday, both the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres got handled in their games in losses to the Wild and Rangers.
All four of the teams listed have won four or fewer games in their past 10 while the Panthers have taken off on a six-game (5-0-1) point streak and are 7-2-1 in their past 10.
Obviously, this thing is not over.
Detroit, for one, has a chance to slow the Panthers’ chase tonight when it plays host to Florida at Little Caesars Arena.
Florida fans will no doubt be hoping Ottawa comes out of its recent malaise (4-5-1) and snaps its five-game losing streak by extending the three-game slide of the Penguins.
The most important thing for the Panthers right now is to keep the good times rolling as they come into the day three points back of the Islanders and one point behind the Penguins for those coveted wild card spots.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
The Florida Panthers are going nowhere without Matthew Tkachuk.
If there was any question why Bill Zito went all-in to acquire him this past summer, well, there are not anymore.
Good stuff from Tkachuk, Aaron Ekblad and Paul Maurice.
This is another exclusive story to our loyal subscribers so if you have not joined us yet, today would be a great time to join the club!
- Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are together again as the former linemates are tied atop the Florida Panthers record book as the franchise’s all-time scoring leaders. Barkov could be along atop the leader board tonight.
- Florida found itself down 2-0 to the Devils going into the third period and things did look a little bleak, right? Are the Comeback Cats back?
- Great game by the Panthers for about 45 minutes on Saturday as Sam Reinhart gets a pair of third-period goals with Barkov and Tkachuk scoring as well.
- The Panthers set a franchise record for goals in a single period on Thursday as they put up seven on the Canadiens in the first. They knew Saturday night would be a lot different against the New Jersey Devils.
- Alex Lyon is back with the Panthers after giving up one goal in two games against the Toronto Marlies this weekend. Lyon says he will be ready for his next start which is probably Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
- Video from Maurice, Reinhart, Tkachuk and Brandon Montour following Saturday night’s win is up on the FHN YouTube Channel — not to mention video from morning skates, practices and much, much more.
- You can click the embedded videos below or click RIGHT HERE to see everything all in one place.
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NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW
The Washington Capitals know slow starts are killing them right now as their playoff hopes continue to fade.
And they are sick of them.
- It simply has been a wasted week for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
- So, what’s up with the New York Islanders? It’s Mailbag time on the Island!
- Over the course of the past 11 games, the Detroit Red Wings have scored two goals or fewer in eight of them. The Panthers hope to extend that to nine.
- The Boston Bruins absolutely demolished the Sabres on Sunday.
- James Reimer brought Nazem Kadri of the Calgary Flames into his Pride jersey controversy.
- The Los Angeles Kings did a lot of things right in their shootout loss to the Canucks.
- The Vegas Golden Knights obviously had plenty of coffee in their matinee rout of the Jackets.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT DETROIT RED WINGS
- When: Monday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
- Streaming/TV: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 4-0
- This season (Florida leads 2-0): Panthers 5, Detroit 1 (Dec. 8); Panthers 3, Red Wings 2 (Jan. 6)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 35-19-6, 5 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Tuesday at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.