The Florida Panthers hoped their scoring woes would cease once their talented forwards started coming off the injured list and back into the lineup.
So far, so good.
Ever since Nick Bjugstad, Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau returned, the Panthers have become a very dangerous offensive team indeed.
On Wednesday night, the Panthers put up six goals on the defending Western Conference champs as Huberdeau scored 1:38 into overtime to lead Florida to a rousing 6-5 win over the host San Jose Sharks.
Not only has Florida won five of its past six, but it has been scoring at an impressive clip.
Going into their game against the Senators on Jan. 31 — when Bjugstad and defenseman Alex Petrovic returned — the Panthers’ highest-scoring game to date was five goals.
In their past five games, the Panthers have scored six goals twice and put in seven on Saturday against the host Nashville Predators.
The Panthers are 2-0 on a five-game trip which continues Friday in Anaheim against the Ducks and Saturday against the host Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
In Florida’s past six games, its lowest scoring contest — a 2-1 win — came against the Ducks in Sunrise.
“There were a lot of goals scored so it was a fun game to be a part of,” said Bjugstad, who has three goals in the past two games and scored twice on Wednesday.
“It was a fun way to end it. We’re on the road so we have to keep the offense going.”
On Wednesday, the Panthers never trailed and twice held two-goal leads.
Up 5-3 in the third, San Jose rumbled back and tied the score with 37.6 seconds left when goalie Roberto Luongo hit the ice in pain and couldn’t get up in time to make a save on Joe Pavelski.
Luongo was attended to by medical staff on the ice and limped into the locker room. James Reimer finished things off and will likely start Friday in Anaheim.
Coach Tom Rowe said Thursday that Luongo was OK.
“He got an IV last night and he should be fine for [Friday],” Rowe said.
While the Panthers are thrilled with their new-found scoring, they aren’t as happy with the goals they’ve been giving up.
San Jose is the latest team to put up big numbers against the Panthers as Florida has surrendered four goals or more in four its past five games.
Sure, the Panthers are winning, but they know this probably isn’t sustainable.
“A lot of these goals are coming off of our shin pads, our sticks,” Rowe said, noting that Florida players helped deflect four goals in the past two games past Luongo.
“There is no way you’re going to have long-term success if you continue to give up four or five goals against. We have a real good team. The offensive side, we don’t have to worry about because we have a tremendous amount of skill. ...
“At the end of the day, we have to be a better defensive team, be more responsible.”
▪ Jaromir Jagr celebrated his 45th birthday on Wednesday and helped Barkov score in the third period to give the Panthers a 5-3 lead.
The assist marked Jagr’s 1,900th NHL point as he became just the third NHL player to play in a game at age 45.
“I don’t worry about it, I’m glad Huberdeau and Barkov are back and we can play together again,” Jagr said. “They’re fun to play with and they make my life easier out there.”
FRIDAY: PANTHERS AT DUCKS
▪ When, where: 10 p.m.; Honda Center, Anaheim.
▪ TV/Radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WMEN 640.
▪ Series: Florida leads 14-13-3.
▪ Scouting report: The Panthers have won five of their past six after dropping the San Jose Sharks 6-5 in overtime early Thursday morning. Florida, which beat the Ducks 2-1 in Sunrise earlier this month, is averaging almost five goals per game in its past five. Anaheim, second in the Pacific, is coming off a 1-0 win at Minnesota.