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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 / 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 the Penguins.

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

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 44 15 12 1 27
J. Huberdeau 41 8 17 1 25
A. Ekblad 44 6 19 7 25
J. Jokinen 43 4 20 0 24
J. Hayes 36 13 7 1 20
B. Boyes 42 9 11 1 20
S. Bergenheim 33 7 9 4 16
T. Fleischmann 38 5 8 9 13
V. Trocheck 28 4 9 6 13
D. Kulikov 39 1 12 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 17 10 8 .923 2.32
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .887 3.09
 
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