EDMONTON (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Florida Panthers young core is beginning to take the reins of the team.
Former Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau has rebounded from a slow start to play a big role in the historic run by the Panthers.
Huberdeau has posted at least two points in five of his last eight contests and the Panthers attempt to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 12 games when they visit the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Huberdeau did not score his first goal until the 16th game of the season and had just four points in his first 11 contests but has prospered on a line with veteran Jaromir Jagr and 20-year-old center Aleksander Barkov.
Florida leads the Atlantic Division after winning 17 of its 20 games since Thanksgiving and will face a promising Edmonton team that is coming off a frustrating loss.
The Oilers gave up three unanswered “own” goals in the third period Friday to drop a 3-2 decision to Tampa Bay and are 3-7-1 since winning their first six games of December.
“I’ve never see three go in like that,” Edmonton center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins told reporters. “We were dictating the play for most of the game, so that’s tough to swallow.”
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, Sportsnet (Edmonton)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (25-12-3): The 43-year-old Jagr continues to find the Fountain of Youth with three goals in the last three games to bring his team-high total to 14 and move within five of tying Brett Hull (741) for third place on the all-time list.
Barkov has matched Huberdeau with a plus-13 rating during the winning streak, recording six goals and seven assists in the span.
Roberto Luongo has won a career-high nine straight games but could give way to Al Montoya in the first of a back-to-back, with Vancouver next up on Monday.
ABOUT THE OILERS (17-22-3): Coach Todd McLellan told reporters his team did not score enough Friday to make up for its blunders around the net, as the last two goals went in off Taylor Hall’s stick and defenseman Darnell Nurse’s skate.
Hall, who will represent the Oilers at the All-Star Game, has registered just one point in his last five games but leads the team with 41 while Leon Draisaitl (32 points) has not scored a goal in his last 13 contests.
Nugent-Hopkins has picked up his production with six points in his last six games, including an assist on Friday.
- Florida D Aaron Ekblad, last season’s Calder Trophy winner, is a plus-16 with 10 points in his last 20 games.
- Edmonton D Justin Schultz recorded a goal and a season-high five shots on Friday.
- The Oilers have won six – three in shootouts — of the last seven meetings but dropped a 4-2 decision to the Panthers at home last season.
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