Curtis McElhinney
Blue Jackets-Panthers Preview
Curtis McElhinney

Blue Jackets-Panthers Preview

Published Dec. 27, 2015 12:12 a.m. ET

The Florida Panthers are hoping a break for Christmas won't hurt any momentum they've built.

The league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets don't figure to pose much of a threat, especially now that their mastery of Florida ended last season.

The Panthers can record their first six-game win streak in nearly eight years Sunday night when they host the Blue Jackets.

Florida (19-12-4) has four games left on a homestand it opened with shootout wins over Vancouver on Sunday and Ottawa on Tuesday. The Panthers are enjoying an 11-3-0 surge and are eager to get back to work.


"Make sure we come back after Christmas playing the same way," said veteran winger Jaromir Jagr, who has a team-high 25 points. "A team game, everybody, five guys back-check, play as a team."

Roberto Luongo has started four games in this run, posting a 1.44 goals-against average. His last five-game win streak was from Dec. 3-14, 2013, with Vancouver.

''Right now we're finding different ways to win every night, whether that's 1-0 or a shootout or a high-scoring game. Good teams do that,'' Luongo said.

Florida seeks its first six-game win streak since March 2-16, 2008.

Jagr says he is OK after he lost four teeth Tuesday when he took a stick to the face midway through the first period.

The Panthers had gone 0-7-3 in a 10-game stretch against Columbus (13-21-3) before sweeping both meetings last season by one goal.

The Blue Jackets are much worse this season and will be battling fatigue after falling 5-2 at Tampa Bay on Saturday.

A season full of lowlights produced another one for the Blue Jackets, who were holding a 2-1 lead when they were whistled for three minor penalties in a three-second span in the second period. Columbus proceeded to allow two 5-on-3 goals in 32 seconds to cough up the lead.

''I've never seen that before,'' coach John Tortorella said. ''And certainly that was the beginning of the end.

''Those are the type of things that really define us.''

The Blue Jackets went into the Christmas break averaging a league-worst 12:58 penalty minutes.

Columbus is 3-7-3 in its last 13 games. Its power play since Nov. 17 is at 10.2 percent for the NHL's second-worst mark.

Rene Bourque and Scott Hartnell had the Blue Jackets' goals. Ryan Johansen has gone 11 straight games without one after scoring 26 a season ago.

Columbus is 3-6-0 in the second half of back-to-back sets. It's unclear who will start in goal after rookie Joonas Korpisalo was pulled Saturday when he yielded four goals on 18 shots with Curtis McElhinney replacing him.

Blue Jackets winger Nick Foligno sat out his second consecutive game with a lower body injury.

Columbus forward Gregory Campbell is 16-2-2 in his career against the Panthers, the club with which he spent his first six seasons.

The Panthers got two injured players back Tuesday in former Blue Jackets center Derek MacKenzie and defenseman Alex Petrovic. MacKenzie missed four games and Petrovic sat out 12.


Curtis McElhinney
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