The Florida Panthers get another day off to enjoy Saturday night’s impressive 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and prepare for Tuesday night’s tilt against the incoming Vegas Golden Knights.
In addition to hosting Vegas, the Cats will also see the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets come to town this week for a Friday-Saturday back-to-back.
Florida remains three points behind Pittsburgh and four back of the New York islanders in the crowded race for the Eastern Conference’s two wild card spots.
Tonight’s games that directly affect the Panthers playoff chances see the Buffalo Sabres host the Edmonton Oilers (ESPN+, Hulu); the Ottawa Senators visit the Blackhawks; and the Washington Capitals take on the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena. Like the Panthers, all three of those teams have 68 points with Sabres boasting the best points percentage.
It was another busy weekend for the Charlotte Checkers, who played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and won two out of the three road games.
On Friday, the Checkers posted a 2-1 overtime win over the Utica Comets. Down a goal in the third, Grigori Denisenko tied the game with a power-play goal, from Lucas Carlsson and Riley Nash, 5:20 into the third period. Aleski Heponiemi won it 19 seconds into the extra session with the assists going to Carlsson and goaltender J,F, Berube, who finished with 22 saves. Both players hit the ten-goal mark for the season.
Saturday saw Charlotte fall by a 4-1 count to the Springfield Thunderbirds. Nash got the only Checkers goal with the lone assist going to Carlsson. It was Carlsson’s 20th assist of the campaign. Mack Guzda got the start and stopped 22 of 26 shots.
The Checkers finished up with a 6-3 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack. Charlotte scored five times in the third to erase a 3-1 deficit. Riley Bezeau collected two goals and Gerry Mayhew, Matt Kiersted, Oliver Chau and Nash also lit the lamp. Chau’s goal was his first in the American League and Nash’s marker was his 20th. Carlsson, Heponiemi and Dominic Franco each had two assists and Nash and Zac Dalpe had one apiece. Berube finished with 28 saves to get this second win of the weekend.
Charlotte (32-19-3-2) are now up to 69 points and have a firm grip on third place in Atlantic Division.