TAMPA (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – All good things must come to an end.
The Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers, who saw their 13-game point streak come to a crashing halt last time out, look to begin another run when they visit the surging Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.
The Panthers managed only 15 shots in Wednesday’s 6-0 loss at Calgary and must find a way to cool off Tampa Bay, which has won a season-high four in a row.
Florida had won 12 straight games before a 3-2 overtime defeat at Vancouver on Monday and Jonathan Huberdeau told reporters his team “had to regroup and be positive” after the debacle in Calgary.
The Lightning have won five of their last six after Vladislav Namestnikov’s hat trick keyed to a 5-4 overtime victory over Pittsburgh on Friday that started a stretch of 14 games during which 11 are at home.
Namestnikov has recorded three goals and five assists during his four-game point streak. “He’s had to fight for everything,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper told reporters of the former first-round pick. “He stuck with it. He’s made a choice to be an NHL hockey player, and you really pull for guys like that.”
TV: 5 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, Sun Sports (Tampa Bay)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (26-13-5): Defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who has missed the last two games with a concussion, was back on the ice Saturday but is expected to sit out Florida’s contests on Sunday and Monday.
The Panthers need to fix their power play as it has converted just two of its 33 chances over the last 10 contests.
Veteran Jaromir Jagr has notched six points in as many games to lead the team with 32 while linemates Huberdeau (six in five) and Aleksander Barkov (10 in nine) are next with 31 and 28, respectively.
ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (23-17-4): Namestnikov has prospered since being put on a line with Ondrej Palat and captain Steven Stamkos (team-high 20 goals), posting a plus-8 rating over the last four games.
Nikita Kucherov, playing with Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn of late, leads the team in scoring with 35 points – five in his last four contests.
Defenseman Victor Hedman has raised his production level during the winning streak as well, recording six points to stand third on the team with 24 overall.
- Tampa Bay G Ben Bishop, who was rested Friday and is expected back in net, is 6-1-1 in eight career games against the Panthers.
- Florida C Nick Bjugstad has yet to register a point in six games since returning from more than a month away due to migraines.
- The Panthers won both meetings with Tampa Bay in mid-November, posting a come-from-behind 5-4 overtime win and a 1-0 shutout by G Roberto Luongo, who is slated to start Sunday.
The Panthers face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, January 17th at 5:00 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
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