Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers getting busier at offensive end

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (44) and Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) fight for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Sunrise, Fla.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly (44) and Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) fight for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Sunrise, Fla. AP

Despite being one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league, it’s not very accurate to say the Panthers’ offensive is struggling.

They might not be scoring many goals, but they are definitely putting the offensive pressure on opposing teams.

On Sunday, the Panthers scored six goals on Toronto, matching their season-high (Nov.16 at Anaheim) for a single game.

Sunday’s game was also the seventh time this month Florida has scored three goals or more.

For those who like positive trends, the Panthers have scored three-plus goals in their past two games — both wins — and have outshot their opponent in the past five games.

The Panthers are 10-1-3 when scoring three-plus goals this season.

“It’s coming, we’re getting plenty of scoring chances and we’re putting pucks at the net,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said. “I know we’re playing very well and out-chancing the other team.’’

Despite Sunday’s goal avalanche — Florida scored four times in the third period which is more than it has scored in 26 full games this year — the Panthers don’t expect to become a high-scoring team anytime soon.

Florida’s 2.24 goals this season, which do not include five team goals awarded by the league for shootout wins, ranks 26th in the 30-team NHL.

Among the 19 teams within five points of a playoff spot — the Panthers came into Monday two points out — Florida has the fewest goals by far and is the only team of the group with a negative goals for/against number.

“We’re going in the right direction, and we’re going to win games differently,’’ said Jonathan Huberdeau, who scored his fourth goal on Sunday.

“I think maybe the net needs to be a little bigger for us. No, we have two great goalies and they keep us in games. We don’t want to get into 6-4 games every night. We’re not going to win a lot of those.’’

Over the past few weeks, the Panthers’ offense has been outworking their opposition with Florida generating plenty of chances.

On Sunday, the Panthers outshot the Maple Leafs 34-22 with Florida getting 50 shot attempts (shots on goal, missed shots, blocked shots).

Since the start of the month, the Panthers have outshot their opponent in nine of 12 games.

On Sunday, the Panthers spread the scoring around as 12 of the 18 skaters made it to the scoresheet.

“The more shots you get, the more chances you get to score,’’ Nick Bjugstad said.

“We need to create more top-notch chances. We have to create opportunities and guys have been doing that. Four lines have been contributing, and when we’re working hard, we’re all over people.’’


Huberdeau has a large group of family and friends in town from Quebec for the holidays and said he needed to get 80 tickets for Tuesday’s game against Montreal.

One person who doesn’t need a ticket is his 14-year-old sister Josiane.

On Tuesday, Josiane Huberdeau will sing O Canada in French and English before the game.

“It’s going to be great with all the family here,’’ Jonathan Huberdeau said. “She’s sung the national anthem at junior games, so I figured why not ask and see if she could do it here. It’s cool that the organization is letting her do it.’’

▪ Defenseman Willie Mitchell and forward Tomas Kopecky were given the day off from Monday’s practice.

“Everything is fine,’’ Gallant said. “They both got a little banged up [Sunday], but it’s nothing serious.’’

Shawn Thornton (groin) didn’t practice either.

▪ Sunday’s comeback marked the first time the Panthers rallied to win a game in which they trailed by two since beating Dallas last season.

Tuesday: Canadiens at Panthers

When/where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.

TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560.

Series: Tied 36-36-8.

Noteworthy: The Panthers have won four consecutive home games and are 6-0-1 in their past seven games in Sunrise. The Canadiens split last year’s four-game set with Florida with Gerard Gallant as an assistant coach.

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