Panthers going extra mile in playoff hunt
The way things are going, it's a good bet the Florida Panthers will be working overtime on Saturday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.
Florida is 1-0-2 in its past three games, playing beyond regulation each time.
The Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Monday, getting an overtime goal from Aaron Ekblad. On Tuesday, the Panthers blew a 3-2 third-period lead, and the game ended with a shootout as the Arizona Coyotes prevailed 4-3.
On Thursday, the Panthers ended a three-game road trip with another hard-fought battle, a 6-5 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
"We got four out of six points on this road trip," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "There was a lot of hard hockey and a lot of overtime minutes.
"I like the way we are competing. We're finding a way to get points."
The Panthers, who are not currently in playoff position, next face a Hurricanes squad they are chasing for a possible wild-card spot.
Carolina, which beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Friday night, is 2-0-0 against Florida this season, routing the visiting Panthers 4-1 on Nov. 23 and then edging the host Panthers 4-3 on Feb. 21.
Jordan Martinook scored a hat trick in the November game, and Lucas Wallmark had the primary assist on each goal.
Last month, the Panthers blew a 3-2 third-period lead against Carolina. Justin Williams scored twice in that game, including the game-winning goal on a power play.
Williams' first goal went in off the right side of his face after teammate Brett Pesce fired a shot.
"Thank God it was Pesce," Williams joked. "If it were anyone else, it probably would've broken my jaw."
Carolina will enter Saturday's game on a four-game win streak and a run of 13-3-1 in its past 17 games.
The Hurricanes had five different goal-scorers against the Blues. Three Hurricanes players had two assists in the game: Pesce, Nino Niederreiter and Teuvo Teravainen. In addition, Justin Faulk and Sebastian Aho each had one goal and one assist.
In Saturday's game, however, Carolina would be wise to watch out for Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, who scored twice on Thursday and has the first 30-goal season of his career.
"It feels good," said Hoffman, who has a team-high 13 power-play goals this season, including two on Thursday. "You set goals for yourself, and you try to reach them as the season goes along. I'm glad I can contribute in any way."
Hoffman has 15 points in his past 14 games -- seven goals and eight assists.
"You can't teach what he has," Boughner said of Hoffman's gifts as a scorer.
Other Panthers doing well of late include Aleksander Barkov, who has a seven-game point streak, compiling eight goals and seven assists during that span. Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau had four points on Thursday and has a career-high 47 helpers this season -- six shy of the franchise record. Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, 23, has 12 goals and at least 10 scores in each of his five NHL seasons.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 2, 2019