Cat predictions: two-game trip; star weekend

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The Panthers have two more games until they can ease off.

Starting this week, retaining first place in the Atlantic Division with a 31-9-5 record, they will visit the Blue Jackets on Monday and the Rangers on Tuesday before taking a well-deserved rest.

After those games, the Panthers won’t play again until February 16.

“Two great games for us”, captain Alexander Barkov noted.

Turning heads seemingly every time they hit the ice, the Panthers closed out last week in epic fashion when they erased a third-period deficit to come from behind and stun the Sharks in a 5- 4 in overtime in front of a crowd of over 18,000 fans at the FLA Live Arena.

Their ninth straight win at home, the Cats outscored opponents 54-20 in that span.

“The crowd was great,” interim head coach Andrew Brunette said. “It allowed us to go there at different times. Although I felt we were dictating a lot of the game, we were struggling to score. I felt the momentum building and then the crowd got into it . It was a lot of fun to be a part of this one.”

Of course, there is a Panther that will be working this weekend.

Leading the NHL in points (62) and assists (45), Jonathan Huberdeau will compete in the 2022 All-Star Skills Contest on Friday and the 2022 NHL All-Star Game on Saturday.

“I’m really happy for him,” Barkov said. “Everyone sees what they can do on the ice.”

For more on this week’s games and Huberdeau’s trip to Las Vegas, keep reading below.

GAMES

Monday: at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. ET

The Panthers will look to carry some of the momentum generated from their strong homestand on the road when they kick off a straight set with a clash against the Blue Jackets (20-21-1) at Nationwide Arena on Monday. Rebounding from a three-game skid, Columbus has won each of its last two games, including a 6-3 thrashing against the Canadiens on Sunday. With 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his last 10 games, Boone Jenner leads the Blue Jackets in goals (18) and points (30), while Jakub Voracek is first in assists (26) . In the crease, Elvis Merzlikins earned the bulk of the starts for Columbus, posting a 14-11-1 record with a .911 save percentage. Trailing the Blue Jackets 8-0-1 since the 2020-21 season, the Panthers picked up a 9-2 victory in their first meeting this season on January 15. This time, find Sam Bennett to continue to put a lot of pucks on the opposing net. Leading the team with a career-high 21 goals, the grizzled forward has lit the lamp 12 times in his last 10 games.

Television and streaming: Bally Sports Florida, NHL Network

Radio: 560WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); SiriusXM app and 932 streaming

Tuesday: New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET

Draining their reservoirs before a long break, the Panthers will close their two-game road trip with a clash against the Rangers (29-13-4) at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Trailing the Hurricanes by just two points for first place in the Metropolitan Division, New York enters this week on the heels of a 3-2 win over Seattle on Sunday. Overall, Rangers have won six of their last nine games while outscoring their opponents 32-26 over that streak. While Artemi Panarin leads New York with 49 points (12 goals, 37 assists), three other players on the team have also already passed the 40-point mark: Mika Zibanejad (47), Adam Fox (47) and Chris Kreider (44). Fox, however, is expected to sit out this contest while nursing an upper body injury. Up there with Sergei Bobrovsky in the Vezina Trophy conversation midway through the season, Igor Shesterkin was the main man in goal for the Rangers, posting a 21-5-2 record with a .937 save percentage and three shutouts. Likely to give Shesterkin headaches, keep an eye out for Alexander Barkov in this competition. Producing better than a clip of points per game, the captain has scored 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists) in 32 games this season, including five goals in his last six games. Their third meeting this season, the Panthers and Rangers have split their series so far, with each side winning a game 4-3.

Television and streaming: Hulu, ESPN+

Radio: 560WQAM (Dade/Broward); 640 WMEN (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); SiriusXM app and 932 streaming

MILESTONE WATCH

Sam Reinhart is four games away from his 500th NHL game.

– Sam Bennett is six goals shy of his 100th NHL goal.

Brandon Montour is seven assists away from his 100th assist in the NHL.

WATCH THE PARTY

There’s nothing better than watching a match with other fans.

When the Panthers take on Rangers in the Big Apple on Tuesday, fans can head to Bokampers Sports Bar & Grill in Plantation for a special watch party presented by Stoli.

If the Cats win, all fans aged 21 or over at the party will receive a free Stoli Mule to celebrate!

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: We’ve teamed up with @stoli for a night of cheering for your cats during #FLAvsNYR! See you all at @Bokampers at Plantation on Tuesday February 1st 🙌 pic.twitter.com/YVPLprj4cr

ALL-STAR WEEKEND

Jonathan Huberdeau has big plans this weekend.

After showing off his skills at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday, the superstar winger will next take to the ice with his Atlantic Division teammates for the NHL All-Star Game on Saturday.

With both events taking place at T-Mobile Arena, the NHL All-Star Skills Competition kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, while the NHL All-Star Game kicks off at 3 p.m. ET on ABC.

Bringing many friends and family, Huberdeau said he was looking forward to Sin City.

“It’s going to be fun,” said double-star Huberdeau (2020, 2022). “Especially in Las Vegas, there will probably be a great show. I have my family and a lot of friends coming. It should be a good time to see other guys in the league. The game is always fun.”

Entering this week as the NHL’s leading scorer with 62 points (17 goals, 45 assists), Huberdeau’s skills should be on full display given the 3-on-3 format of the All-Star Game.

To keep up with him over the weekend, follow @FlaPanthers on Twitter and Instagram.

SPOTLIGHT ON PROSPECTS

Henry Bowlby warming up in the AHL.

On Saturday, the 24-year-old forward earned Third Star honors when he racked up a goal, an assist and three shots on goal to help lead the Checkers to a dominating 6-1 victory over the Crunch.

Tweet from @CheckersHockey: Bowlby gets cannon shot, kicks the D’s legs and McCormick drives him home! pic.twitter.com/Ah8lW4cBL7

Midway through his second professional season, Bowlby has produced 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 32 games, including one goal and three assists in his last two games.

Joining the Panthers on a two-year, entry-level contract in 2020, the former Harvard standout has 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) and a +22 rating in 55 career AHL games.

CLIP CATS OF THE WEEK

What does it look like when nearly 19,000 fans jump out of their seats in unison?

Watch the clip below to find out!

Video: [email protected]: Bennett scores point shot for overtime win

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: Congratulations to our Last Game Weekend Home Game 50/50 Jackpot Winner! 👏Buy your raffle tickets now for a chance to win big 🎟 https://t.co/mn0ewzR7tp pic.twitter.com/5a4IbDs7xk

Tweet from @JTFoundation99: #literacyweek continues as our @bluapplePoetry team visited @LLMS_Vikings for another #PanthersPoetryProject pep rally in partnership with the @FlaPanthers. @preciacha @gibbons_althea @browardschools #community #poetry #youthvoice pic.twitter.com/4bZgmI3ppk

Tweet from @FlaPanthersCARE: We surprised our #FlaPanthers @FutureGoalsSTEM MVT nominee Stefanie in her class today with a team autographed jersey and an appearance from @StanleyCPanther! There is still time to vote! https://t.co/SXLMzpaZt2 pic.twitter.com/yqMG2mThJb

TALK ABOUT THE TERRITORY

On the latest episode of the Territory Talk podcast, original Panther and current broadcaster Bill Lindsay joined the show to break down the incredible first half of the team’s 2021-22 campaign.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Feltman’s Value Pack contains everything you need for a great night out at the FLA Live Arena.

Play video games and win prizes with FLA Panthers Gaming.

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