The Florida Panthers, who are tied for the NHL lead with 61 points, have one glaring flaw.
It’s their road record.
In contrast to their league-best 21-3-0 home mark, the Panthers are just 7-6-5 on the road.
On Tuesday night, the Panthers will get a chance to improve that ledger when they visit the Winnipeg Jets, who are 10-6-1 at home this season.
Florida’s latest road failure was a surprising 5-3 loss to the expansion Seattle Kraken on Sunday night.
“I don’t think we deserved to win this game,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “We had chances, but it just didn’t go our way. It was not our best game.”
Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette has noticed a trend.
“On the road,” he said, “they are hard games when you are chasing (the score). You put yourself in a bad position.”
The Panthers are 2-2-0 on this trip out west, and this road swing ends with the game in Winnipeg.
Florida has rotated goalies on this trip. Rookie Spencer Knight took a 5-1 loss at the Calgary Flames. Sergei Bobrovsky blanked Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, 6-0. Knight beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in a shootout, and Bobrovsky was defeated by Seattle.
For the season, Bobrovsky is 20-4-3 with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. Knight is 8-5-2 with a 3.31 GAA and an .896 save percentage.
Panthers All-Star Jonathan Huberdeau enters Monday’s action leading the league in assists (42) and tied atop the leaderboard in points (58). Barkov and Anthony Duclair lead the Panthers in goals with 18 each. Barkov and Sam Bennett top the Panthers in power-play tallies with five. Barkov also has a team-high three short-handed goals.
Winnipeg, which has yet to play the Panthers this season, is on a four-game winless streak (0-2-2). However, three of those losses were by one goal, including one in overtime and another that was decided in a shootout.
The Jets who are without top-six forward Nikolaj Ehlers (knee injury), are led in goals (22) and assists (19) by winger Kyle Connor. Ehlers’ speed and hands are missed as he is one of the top 50 players in the NHL, according to The Hockey News.
Three other Jets forwards are having strong seasons: Pierre-Luc Dubois (17 goals, 29 points); Mark Scheifele (10 goals, 28 points) and Andrew Copp (11 goals, 27 points).
The star of the team is Connor Hellebuyck, ranked by The Hockey News as the league’s second-best goalie and the league’s 12th-best player overall.
After winning the Vezina Trophy in 2020 by going 31-21-5 with a 2.57 GAA, six shutouts and a .922 SP, Hellebuyck is 14-12-6 this season with a 2.80 GAA, two shutouts and a .912 SP.
On Sunday, in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Hellebuyck was working on a 2-0 shutout when he allowed two third-period goals in nine seconds.
“The game went from a shutout and what should’ve been a shutout to overtime to a shootout loss,” Hellebuyck said. “It just seems like that’s my luck right now.”
–Field Level Media