Dec 31st – Panthers @ Columbus
The Florida Panthers opened the week by visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets. This was the big return of Sergei Bobrovsky to Columbus, after he the left the Blue Jackets in free agency in 2019. The Blue Jackets were certainly ready from puck drop, with Zach Werenski putting the Jackets up 1-0 less than 5 minutes in. Colton Sceviour put the Panthers on the board in the 2nd, but this was not their night. Werenski completed the hat-trick in a Blue Jackets 4-1 victory. Not a good start for Bobrovsky and the Panthers to open this 4 game road trip. A trip to Ottawa two night later couldn’t come quick enough.
Jan 2nd – Panthers @ Ottawa
The Panthers had just one day off following the loss to Columbus, traveling north to Ottawa to begin 2020. This game was in Ottawas hands to start, going up 2-1 after the first on goals from Tyler Ennis and Chris Tierney. The Panthers high powered offensive took over from there, plowing in 4 unanswered goals in the 2nd to up 5-2. Sergei Bobrovsky allowed 1 more late goal in the 3rd, but made 28 saves in the 6-3 victory. The Panthers would like to see more out of Bobrovsky though. Even in picking up the win, 3 goals on 31 shots is not Bobrovsky at his best.
Jan 4th – Panthers @ Buffalo
Visiting Buffalo on Saturday, the game was rescheduled from a night to day game. This was done to accommodate Buffalo Bills fans to watch both hockey and football. This was a big game for both teams, as the Sabres are battling with the Panthers for those final Atlantic Division playoff spots. The Sabres were the ones who came out flying, chasing Sergei Bobrovsky after Sam Reinhart made it 3-0 Buffalo in the 2nd. Bobrovsky left the night with 3 goals against on 7 shots, far from whats expected. Chris Driedger made 11 saves in relief. The Panthers made it close, but came up short 3-2 to Buffalo. Moving the game to 1 PM gave the Panthers an extra 6 hours to get ready for Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Jan 5th – Panthers @ Pittsburgh
Visiting Pittsburgh on Sunday, the Panthers were looking for a 2-2 split from this 4 game road trip. Following his strong showing in Buffalo on Saturday, Chris Driedger got the start against Pittsburgh on Sunday. Much like the day previous, Driedger was terrific. The Panthers had lost the last 8 visits to Pittsburgh, but this time the Penguins came up short. Jared McCann had the only goal for Pittsburgh on the night as Driedger put up 31 saves in the victory. Frank Vatrano, Brett Connolly, Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov had the goals for Florida in this 4-1 win.
What’s Next: Jan 6– Jan 13. 2020
Next week the Florida Panthers return home for a 4 game home stand, which begins with Arizona on Tuesday. Vancouver visits on Thursday, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday to close the week. Toronto fans always flock to South Florida this time of year, so the building should be rocking. Expect Chris Driedger to get the net at some point this week. His play has been superior to that of Bobrovsky, so giving Driedger more playing time just makes sense. The Panthers are still looking healthy, with only Mackenzie Weeger listed as day-to-day.
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