Red-hot Florida stretches win streak to nine


The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Bill White­head

sun­rise, fla.» Jaromir Jagr scored two goals, in­clud­ing the game-win­ner in the third pe­riod, and Al Mon­toya made 38 saves as the streak­ing Florida Pan­thers beat the Min­nesota Wild 2-1 on Sun­day.

The vic­tory was the ninth in a row for Florida and sev­enth straight at home, each a fran­chise record. The nine-game win­ning streak ties Mon­treal, Wash­ing­ton and the New York Rangers for the long­est in the NHL this sea­son.

Dmitry Ku­likov had two as­sists for the Pan­thers (23-12-4). Jonathan Hu­berdeau and Bran­don Pirri also con­trib­uted as­sists.

Jagr, 43, has 735 goals in his ca­reer — just six be­hind Brett Hull for third place in NHL history.

Ja­son Zucker scored for Min­nesota (20-11-7), as­sisted by Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter. De­van Dub­nyk made 26 saves.

With the score 1-1 in the third pe­riod, Jagr took a long di­ag­o­nal pass along the right boards from Pirri af­ter Min­nesota was caught with three play­ers be­hind Florida’s goal. Jagr kept con­trol of the puck, weaved to the high slot and whis­tled a shot past Dub­nyk for his team-lead­ing 13th goal.

Florida’s 14-3-0 run en­ter­ing the game was pow­ered by a de­fense that was among the NHL’s stingi­est, al­low­ing just 28 goals in the pre­vi­ous 17 games.

How­ever, Jagr and the of­fense put Florida in front early.

Ku­likov set up Jagr in the first pe­riod by keep­ing the puck in the of­fen­sive zone and send­ing a pass to the right wing. Jagr slipped a back­han­der that found its way be­tween Dub­nyk’s legs.

The goal, just 27 sec­onds into the game, was Florida’s fastest this sea­son, break­ing the mark of 51 sec­onds, also on a goal by Jagr on Dec. 10 against Wash­ing­ton.

Just as Florida did in the first pe­riod, Min­nesota scored in the open­ing minute of the sec­ond pe­riod to tie it.

Zucker took a pass from Koivu and tried to stuff it past Mon­toya. Zucker then found his re­bound and poked it in for his 10th goal just 48 sec­onds into the pe­riod.

Florida for­ward Nick Bjugstad, the club’s top goal scorer last sea­son and points pro­ducer two years ago, re­turned to the Pan­thers’ lineup af­ter miss­ing 15 games.

The for­mer Univer­sity of Min­nesota star cen­tered a line with Pirri and Lo­gan Shaw.

With goal­tender Darcy Kuem­per (con­cus­sion) on in­jured re­serve, Nik­las Back­strom again served as Dub­nyk’s backup. The 37-year-old Back­strom hasn’t played in a game since Jan. 13, 2015.

Florida cap­tain Wil­lie Mitchell, 38, played in the 900th game of his NHL ca­reer.

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