Preview: Panthers at Blues
The Florida Panthers pumped some life into their playoff quest with three big points in the last two games and look to take that momentum on the road when they visit the reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Monday night. The Panthers lost 2-1 in overtime against NHL-best Boston on Thursday and scored three times in the third period to pull away from Montreal 4-1 on Saturday.
“I thought we had a workmanlike type of game, more businesslike than we’ve had recently,” Florida coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after his team moved within three points of Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division with a game in hand. “We took that awful stretch we’ve had here (1-4-2) and turned it into a different situation when you look at where we’re sitting.” The Panthers, who also visit Dallas on the two-game trip Thursday, lost a pair of one-goal games against the Blues last season and will host them March 21. Central Division-leading St. Louis rebounded from its first loss in nine games to blank host Chicago 2-0 on Sunday as Jake Allen turned aside 29 shots and Jaden Schwartz set up both tallies, giving him five points in the last three contests. The Blues increased their lead to four points on second-place Colorado, who played later Sunday, as they begin a four-game stretch against teams outside playoff position.
TIME: 8 p.m. ET. TV: NHL Network, FS Florida, FS Midwest, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet Ontario
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (34-26-8): Backup Chris Driedger (6-2-1, .936 save percentage) stopped 59 of the 62 shots he faced the last two games and could get a third straight start with No. 1 goalie Sergei Bobrovsky hampered by a lower-body injury. Left wing Jonathan Huberdeau scored Saturday to snap a six-game goal drought and leads the team with 78 points while Mike Hoffman tops Florida with 28 goals, including six in his past eight contests. Aaron Ekblad had a pair of assists versus Montreal to set a career high with 41 points and fellow defenseman MacKenzie Weegar has scored in two straight games.
ABOUT THE BLUES (41-18-10): Forward Brayden Schenn helped set up one of the tallies Sunday to extend his point streak to seven games (five goals, four assists) and is tied with Schwartz for third on the team with 57 points. Leading scorer David Perron (60 points) has not made the scoresheet in three straight contests and Ryan O’Reilly (58) is pointless in the past two while defenseman Alex Pietrangelo scored his 14th goal Sunday to pull within one of his career high (2017-18). Jordan Binnington (30-12-7, .911 SP) is expected back in net after being rested Sunday, and has won six of his past seven starts.
1. St. Louis D Justin Faulk has missed the last two games with a+n upper-body injury and is day-to-day.
2. Florida C Brian Boyle could return to the lineup Monday after missing 18 games with an upper-body injury.
3. The Panthers are 0-for-14 on the power play over the last five games while the Blues are 3-for-10 in the past four contests.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Panthers 2