Fri, 28 Jan 2022

Florida's 'Comeback Cats' look to scratch out win vs. Blues

Field Level Media
04 Dec 2021, 04:19 GMT+10

If you want to defeat the Florida Panthers, don't you dare take a three-goal lead against them.

That doesn't seem to make sense, but that's the way it played out for the Panthers in their past two games.

On Saturday afternoon, the Panthers -- alias the Comeback Cats -- will try to make it three straight wins when they play host to the St. Louis Blues in Sunrise, Fla.

The nickname fits after the Panthers fell behind the Washington Capitals 4-1 in Tuesday's third period ... only to win 5-4 in regulation. Then, on Thursday, the Panthers fell behind 4-1 in the second period before scoring six straight goals in a remarkable 7-4 victory.

"There's a belief in our room that we're never out of the fight," Panthers winger Ryan Lomberg said. "We just keep our foot on the gas."

Saturday's contest is the last of Florida's four-game homestand. It will also complete a string of eight home contests in a span of nine overall games.

Florida leads the NHL in home wins and has the league's best overall record in their arena at 13-1-0.

The Panthers also have perhaps the most explosive offense in the NHL, ranking second in the league in goals per game (3.87). Even without a pair of injured top-six forwards -- center and captain Aleksander Barkov and speedy winger Anthony Duclair -- the Panthers are still potent.

Against Buffalo, for example, Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau had one goal and four assists. Teammate Sam Reinhart was almost as good with one goal and three assists, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad and rookie Anton Lundell had two goals each.

For the season, Huberdeau leads the Panthers in points (28) and assists (20). Ekblad is second in assists (15) and points (23).

The Blues and Panthers have yet to play each other this season, but they will get to know each other better soon. After Saturday's game in Florida, the teams will get a rematch on Tuesday in St. Louis.

Blues coach Craig Berube went with backup goalie Ville Husso in Thursday's 4-2 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning after No. 1 netminder Jordan Binnington entered the league's COVID-19 protocols. Husso made 31 saves.

Binnington, who has played all but five of the Blues' games this season, is 8-5-3 with a 2.80 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

Offensively, the Blues are led by three forwards with nine goals each: Brandon Saad, Pavel Buchnevich and Jordan Kyrou.

Robert Thomas is St. Louis' top facilitator with a team-high 20 assists, including two against Tampa Bay.

On the power play, Thomas leads St. Louis with seven assists, and Saad and Buchnevich lead with four goals.

In fact, the Blues went 2-for-4 with the man advantage on Thursday. The Blues are second-best in the NHL this season in power-play scores (30.8 percent). They are also tied for fourth with three short-handed goals.

Overall this season, the Blues are seventh in the league in scoring with 3.26 goals per game.

--Field Level Media

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