Avs aim to start new streak vs. Panthers
Colorado Avalanche at Florida Panthers
- The Avalanche won both matchups with the Panthers last season after Florida swept the two meetings in 2016-17. The Avs and Panthers have not had a matchup go to overtime since October 2014.
- The Avalanche lost to the Penguins, 6-3, in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, snapping a streak of 11 consecutive games with a point earned. The Avs were behind 3-0 7:27 into the first period, the second-quickest they have been down by three goals since moving to Colorado (12/10/2016 vs. Mon: 7:12)
- The Panthers defeated the Bruins, 5-0, in Florida on Tuesday, their first shutout of the season. The Panthers have scored a power-play goal in ten consecutive home games, one game short of the longest such streak in franchise history (11 games: November 12 thru December 17, 1997).
- Neither Mikko Rantanen nor Nathan MacKinnon scored a goal in the loss to the Penguins, the first time since November 16 and just the seventh time in 28 games this season that neither of them lit the lamp. The Avs are 0-6-1 (.071) in those seven games.
- Mike Hoffman had his first multi-goal game of the season, scoring his 13th and team-leading 14th goals in the win over the Bruins. For his career, Hoffman's teams have gone 12-3-2 (.765) when he scores two or more goals.
- The Avs and the Panthers are tied for fourth in the league with 38 goals scored in the second period this season. However, Colorado has only allowed 20 goals in the second period, giving them the best second-period goal differential (+18) in the league, while Florida has allowed 38 goals, the third most in the NHL.
SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Colorado Avalanche will be ready when they visit the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, and that is -- essentially -- a promise.
The Avs had an 11-game points streak snapped on Tuesday in a 6-3 loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"We have to have a short memory," said Avs coach Jared Bednar after Colorado's unbeaten string of 9-0-2 was broken. "That's what we've been preaching. I don't care what we did yesterday, the day before or the week before.
"I'm worried about the next game, and that's the way our whole team thinks. That approach was how we were able to sustain our points streak."
Colorado's approach has been working. After finishing last in the league in 2016-2017 with only 48 points, the Avs earned 95 points last season and made the playoffs. Their 47-point improvement ranks as the fourth-best in NHL history.
Meanwhile, the Panthers started slowly last season and finished with a rush -- only to fall one point short of the playoffs.
They have started slowly again this season but have started to gain some momentum during their current eight-game home stretch. There are just two games left on this stand -- the Avs on Thursday and the New York Rangers on Saturday.
Of the 16 points available to the Panthers in those games, they have picked up eight so far (3-1-2), and they could leave with 12 if all goes well the rest of this week.
On Tuesday, the Panthers (11-10-5) turned in their most decisive win of the season, routing the Boston Bruins 5-0.
Mike Hoffman scored two goals, Aleksander Barkov had three assists, and goalie Roberto Luongo returned from his second stint on injured reserve this season to record his 77th career shutout, taking sole possession of ninth place on the all-time NHL list.
"It was great to have 'Lu' back in there," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said of Luongo, who made 32 saves in his first appearance since Nov. 23. "You could see he was in full control back there. His rebound control was amazing. There weren't many second chances laying around his crease."
Luongo has played just 10 games this season due to a pair of lower-body injuries.
Assuming he plays on Thursday -- Boughner may be careful with the 39-year-old goalie and opt to start James Reimer instead -- he will face an Avs team that leads the Western Conference with 10 road wins.
The Avalanche are 10-5-2 on the road and 16-7-5 overall. With 37 points, the Avs are second in the Western Conference, trailing only the Nashville Predators (39 points).
Florida, with 27 points, entered Wednesday tied with the Ottawa Senators for last place in the Atlantic Division.
The Panthers' offense is led by Hoffman, who was acquired from Ottawa in a steal of a trade this past offseason and has a team-high 14 goals. He also has 26 points in his past 24 games.
Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau is also hot with six straight multi-point games. He had one goal and two assists on Tuesday and has three goals and 11 assists during his streak. Huberdeau can tie Pavel Bure's franchise record with a multi-point game his next time out.
Colorado can counter with perhaps the top line in the NHL -- center Nathan MacKinnon and wingers Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.
This Avs trio ranks 1-2-3 on the team in points: Rantanen with 11 goals and team highs in assists (35) and points (46); MacKinnon with a team-high 19 goals and 43 points; and Landeskog with 16 goals and 31 points.
All three of them are age 26 or younger, and MacKinnon, 23, finished second in the Hart Trophy voting last season and also second in the NHL in points per game.
Updated December 5, 2018