Preview: Blue Jackets at Panthers
Less than 24 hours after having their four-game road winning streak halted, the Columbus Blue Jackets attempt to begin another one when they continue a three-game trek Saturday against the Florida Panthers. Columbus had won six of seven overall before Friday's 4-2 setback at Carolina - its first road loss since Dec. 1 versus the New York Islanders.
Artemi Panarin scored his 101st career goal on Friday to increase his team-leading point total to 44. The 27-year-old Russian is riding a six-game point streak during which he has collected four tallies and six assists. Florida is making a brief stop at home during a span in which it plays seven of eight contests on the road. The Panthers began the stretch with a shootout win at Detroit on Monday before dropping a 4-3 decision in Buffalo three nights later.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Columbus), FS Florida
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (23-14-3): Captain Nick Foligno missed his second straight game on Friday as he remained in Boston to be with his five-year-old daughter, who underwent heart surgery at the beginning of the week. Coach John Tortorella told the team's website that Foligno will return to the club whenever he feels he's ready. Cam Atkinson, who was held without a point for just the second time in seven games on Friday, leads the team with 24 goals - the same amount he totaled in 65 contests last season.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (17-16-6): Captain Aleksander Barkov registered a goal and an assist against the Sabres, giving him 13 points over his last nine games. The 23-year-old Finnish center has not been kept off the scoresheet in back-to-back contests since Nov. 23 and 24. Mike Hoffman, who leads the team in tallies after netting his fourth in six games on Thursday, is one away from reaching the 20-goal plateau for the fifth consecutive season.
1. Panthers rookie F Jayce Hawryluk has recorded three goals in his first nine NHL games since being recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League in mid-December.
2. Columbus, which entered Friday ranked 30th in the league on the power play, has scored just once with the man advantage in its last 13 contests.
3. Florida will honor Radek Dvorak, who is the franchise leader in short-handed goals (16) and ranks second in games played (613), during a pregame ceremony.
PREDICTION: Blue Jackets 4, Panthers 1