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5 Things To Watch: Jan. 20 at Pittsburgh

Whether you're going to the game or if you can't make it and are catching the game on FOX Sports Florida or 560 WQAM, here are the five things to look for in tonight's matchup against the Penguins.

Monday, 01.20.2014 / 10:45 AM ET / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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5 Things To Watch: Jan. 20 at Pittsburgh

Whether you're going to the game or if you can't make it and are catching the game on FOX Sports Florida or 560 WQAM, here are the five things to look for in tonight's matchup against Pittsburgh.

PANTHERS (18-23-7) at PENGUINS (34-12-2)
7:00 PM ET; TV: FOX Sports Network; RADIO: 560 AM
Last 10: Florida 4-4-2; Pittsburgh 7-2-1

SPLIT NO MORE: It's hard to believe but this will be the final game of the season series between the two teams and this one will determine the series winner. Florida earned a 6-3 victory on Oct. 11 in the Panthers home opener and the Penguins returned the favor in a 5-1 victory in Sunrise on Nov. 30. A win for the Panthers would give them their first series win since 2008-09 (2-1-1).

GONE STREAKING: Facing the Penguins will be no easy task. The cream of the crop in the East and a perennial Stanley Cup favorite, the game at CONSOL Energy Center will be all that more difficult because the Penguins just don't lose there. They're currently on a 13-game winning streak on home ice. The last time they lost? Try Nov. 13 in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Pittsburgh, in fact, has lost just three times at home (20-3-0) all season.

ROAD TO SOCHI: Monday night's game is filled with a bunch of players and staff members who will be gunning for gold at the Olympics come February. Florida's duo of Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia) and young gun Aleksander Barkov (Finland) will face off against nine Pens who will be making the trek to Sochi. While they're enemies tonight, Barkov will be joined on Finland's team by a pair of Pens in Jussi Jokinen and Olli Maatta. Pens captain Sidney Crosby was just named the captain for Team Canada and will be joined by teammate Chris Kunitz while Evgeni Malkin will suit up for Russia. The biggest contingent will be on the US side as head coach Dan Blysma will be joined by assistant Tony Granato and blue liners Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik.

JUST KILLIN IT: The Panthers penalty kill has been down right amazing over the last nine-plus games. Led by netminder Tim Thomas, the penalty kill unit has killed off the last 26 straight of their opponent's power play opportunities. They'll have to be up to the task against the Penguins as they lead the league, scoring on 24.7% of their opportunities.

IN THE PIVOT: Young gun centers Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov have brought the offense lately with Bjugstad has posted three points (2-1-3) in his last four games while Barkov has recorded 13 points (4-9-13) in his last 17 games but they'll have to be on their toes especially as they face off against two of the best centers in the league in Crosby and Malkin. Crosby is 10 points clear of second place in the points race (25-43-68) while Malkin is tied for 15th in the league with 47 points (12-35-47).

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 50 16 21 11 37
J. Huberdeau 53 10 27 9 37
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
J. Jokinen 53 10 25 11 35
V. Trocheck 53 17 16 3 33
R. Smith 53 16 15 10 31
B. Pirri 49 10 13 -5 23
A. Ekblad 49 10 12 20 22
B. Campbell 53 4 16 16 20
N. Bjugstad 38 9 8 -4 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 13 5 .930 2.13
A. Montoya 8 3 1 .929 2.01

 
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