SUNRISE (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The month of December was very kind to the Florida Panthers and the team began the New Year with a similar feeling.
The first-place Panthers have been finding many different ways to register victories since the middle of December, making changes to their record book in the process.
Florida looks to extend their franchise-best winning streak to nine and complete a perfect six-game homestand when the Minnesota Wild visit on Sunday.
The Panthers received 40 saves from Roberto Luongo for a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday, breaking the team record for consecutive home wins with six.
“Right now, it’s really fun coming to the rink, having 20 guys contributing every night and playing the right way,” Luongo told reporters.
Luongo is expected to be rested in favor of Al Montoya against the Wild, who rallied to get a point in a 3-2 shootout loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday.
“We have to find a way to make sure we start the game better (Sunday), but that’s certainly not the end of the world,” Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said of the point – the Wild’s 22nd in their last 16 games (9-3-4).
TV: 6 p.m. ET, FSN North, FSN Wisconsin (Minnesota), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE WILD (20-10-7): Charlie Coyle continued his strong play Saturday with a goal and an assist, giving him eight points in the last eight games with a plus-7 rating.
Zach Parise returned to the lineup after missing a game with a lower-body injury and logged 24:03 of ice time while Jason Pominville was limited to 13:43, prompting Yeo to tell reporters, “There’s another level to his game.”
Matt Dumba continues to improve in his third season, breaking the franchise record for shots in a game by a defenseman Saturday with nine.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (22-12-4): While Luongo has posted wins in his last seven starts, Montoya has been just as solid with three consecutive victories – allowing a total of three goals in improving to 5-1-1 on the season.
Veteran Jaromir Jagr was held off the scoresheet along with linemates Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov on Saturday, but Jussi Jokinen snapped a five-game point drought with an assist.
Vincent Trocheck scored his 11th goal Saturday to tie Jagr, Barkov and Reilly Smith for the team lead.
- The Wild won both meetings last season, including a 4-1 triumph at Florida, and are 5-0-1 over the last six games of the series.
- Florida C Nick Bjugstad, a native of Minneapolis, could return Sunday after missing the last 15 contests with migraines.
- Minnesota RW Nino Niederreiter has posted nine points in his last nine games after notching an assist Saturday.
The Panthers face the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, January 3rd at 6:00 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
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