For just the second time during their frustrating season, the Florida Panthers have managed to win four times in a span of five games.
The Panthers will try to extend that positive trend when they visit the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday to continue a four-game road trip.
Florida started its excursion with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday night. The Panthers have allowed just one goal in each of their past three victories.
“You always want to start with a win on the road and we got this one,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov told Bally Sports Florida postgame in Saint Paul, Minn. “We have a big one (Tuesday) again. … We have been winning against some big teams lately, and (Monday) was one of the hardest games.”
The Panthers, who have 60 points through 56 games, are still playing catch-up in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“We know the situation we are in,” Barkov said. “We’re coming from a good stretch and losing one game, we wanted to get back to the winning. Whatever it takes, 65 minutes, shootout, we grinded, we battled as hard as we can.”
The Blues snapped q five-game losing streak with a 6-5 overtime victory over the visiting Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
St. Louis got key forwards Ryan O’Reilly (broken foot) and Pavel Buchnevich (ankle infection) back from the injured list. They played their first game without winger Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola, who were sent to the New York Rangers in a trade for winger Sammy Blais, prospect Hunter Skinner and draft picks.
Blais scored against the Coyotes in his first game back with the Blues. He started his career in St. Louis before the team traded him and a draft pick to the Rangers for Buchnevich in July 2021.
“I’ve always loved playing here,” Blais said. “And in my heart, I never should have left, but it’s always a business. They’re the greatest fans in the league, so I’m just happy to be back here and help this team win.”
With Mikkola gone, Blues coach Craig Berube is playing rookie Tyler Tucker on the third pairing with either Calle Rosen or Robert Bortuzzo. Rosen has provided offense — he scored twice against Arizona — while Bortuzzo’s shot-blocking ability is valued on the penalty kill.
Blues winger Jordan Kyrou was removed from the Saturday game after taking a big hit, but he cleared concussion protocol and was back at practice Monday on a line with Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn. Kyrou earned two assists against the Coyotes and drew Berube’s praise.
“Kyrou had a strong game, I thought,” Berube said. “Competed hard on battles, had some good opportunities, was shooting it. Probably could have shot it more. But he competed hard in the battles, which is important. Need him to do that every night.”
The Blues won their previous matchup with the Panthers 5-4 in overtime on Nov. 26 in Sunrise, Fla., overturning a 4-1, third-period deficit. Thomas Greiss made 33 saves to earn the victory and Kyrou scored two goals, including the game-winner. Spencer Knight took the loss for Florida despite stopping 32 shots.
Sergei Bobrovsky has started four straight games for the Panthers, so Knight could get another start against the Blues in the second half of a back-to-back set.
–Field Level Media