Devils, Panthers meet trying to end struggles
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Two struggling teams - the host Florida Panthers and the New Jersey Devils -- will meet Monday night at the BB&T Center.
The Devils, who lost 5-2 to the host Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night, will be playing on shorter rest than Florida. The Devils (9-10-3) are also last in the Metropolitan Division with 21 points and are 2-9-0 on the road.
Devils left winger Taylor Hall, who won league MVP honors last season when he scored 39 goals and dished out 54 assists, was held without a point on Sunday.
So far this season, he has seven goals and 16 assists in 22 games. He has no power-play goals this season after getting 13 with the man advantage last season.
Hall's monster season in 2017-2018 helped the Devils reach the playoffs for the first time in six years.
As for New Jersey's defense, they will likely turn to Keith Kincaid in goal on Monday. Kincaid, who won a career-high 26 games last season, is 9-5-3 so far this season, posting a 2.65 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
New Jersey's other goalie, Cory Schneider, took the loss on Sunday at Tampa Bay and is 0-5-0 so far this season.
Meanwhile, the Panthers (8-9-4) are in last place in the Atlantic Division with 20 points. They are just 3-3-2 at home and blew a game to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night that hit them like a really hard punch in the gut.
Chicago's Alex DeBrincat scored with just 1.8 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, where Erik Gustafsson got the game-winner, leaving Florida with just the one point.
Florida is allowing 3.62 goals per game, which is the second-worst average in the league, better than only the Ottawa Senators.
Offensively, the Panthers rank 12th among 31 teams with 3.24 goals per game. But defensively ...
"We can't be allowing five or six (goals) per game," Panthers winger Mike Hoffman said. "We have to take ownership of that as a group. We have to learn from this. It's happened too many times now. It's unacceptable."
Hoffman, who last week set a Panthers record with a 17-game points streak, leads Florida with 11 goals and 22 points.
The Panthers rank second in the NHL in most shots on goal per game (35.7), and there are no major issues on face-offs as they are winning 50.4 percent of their draws.
Florida's power play, with the trade acquisition this past offseason of Hoffman, has been hot and has moved up to sixth in the league (25.6 conversion rate).
But the Panthers are killing just 75 percent of their penalties - only three NHL teams are worse.
Even so, Panthers captain and center Aleksander Barkov said the biggest problem for Florida is a lack of concentration.
"We (tend) to outshoot teams and out play teams - 45 minutes of good hockey," Barkov said. "But then we give (opponents) five minutes every period that they can do whatever they want. We sit back and don't play confident, and that is costing us games."
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