Florida Panthers vs. Minnesota Wild Pick & Prediction JANUARY 19th 2024

Florida Panthers star Sam Reinhart has scored a special-teams goal in eight consecutive games — something no other NHL player has ever done.

However, as hot as Reinhart is — and his 33 goals rank second in the league — the Panthers are in dire need of a win on Friday night when they end their five-game homestand against the Minnesota Wild.

The Panthers have lost three straight games, although the past two setbacks came in overtime.

Florida played without center Aleksander Barkov in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. The team captain has a lower-body issue, although coach Paul Maurice termed it a minor injury.

Any time missed by Barkov would put more pressure on Reinhart, whose run of eight straight games with a goal of any kind is also a Panthers record. Pavel Bure set the previous record of seven straight games in March 2001.

Reinhart has 20 special-team goals — a league-high 16 on the power play and four short-handed. Reinhart joined Bure as the only Panthers player ever to have 20 special-team goals in a season. Bure had 24 in 2000-01.

“Anytime you’re in a conversation with Pavel Bure,” Reinhart said, “that’s pretty cool.”

Reinhart needs one more goal to set a career high. He leads the Panthers with 35 assists and 56 points this season. Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk are Florida’s co-leaders in power-play assists (14 apiece).

The Panthers, who made it to the Stanley Cup Final last year, are in second place in the Atlantic Division with 58 points.

Meanwhile, the Wild — who haven’t won a playoff series since 2015 — are second to last in the Central Division, nine points off a playoff position.

The Wild had lost four straight games and eight of nine before beating the New York Islanders 5-0 on Monday. However, they stumbled again on Thursday, falling 7-3 to the host Tampa Bay Lightning. The seven goals matched Minnesota’s worst yield of the season.

After trailing by only one goal entering the third period, the Wild gave up three goals in the final frame, two of them on Tampa Bay power plays.

“The game’s at 4-3 and when you give a top power-play unit that many opportunities with the types of penalties we took in the situations we took, that’s the difference in the game,” Wild coach John Hynes said. “It’s about the management and understanding time and score and the situations, and tonight when it was in the balance down by one, down by two, we shot ourselves in the foot.”

The Minnesota defense will have to look for improvement despite the absence of Jared Spurgeon, 34. The top-pair defenseman was ruled out for the season on Wednesday, and he will undergo hip and back surgeries in the next two months.

Spurgeon, sidelined since Jan. 2, ends the campaign with no goals and five assists in 16 games.

“It’s really difficult,” Hynes said, according to NHL.com. “No. 1, for Spurg, you never want to see someone have to go through that. But I think overall down the road, it’ll be really good for him. He battled his way through it (but) he couldn’t make it any further, so (we) wish him the best in the surgeries, recovery, and look forward to seeing him around the rink.”

The Panthers are relatively healthy except for Barkov and fourth-line forward Nick Cousins (concussion).

–Field Level Media

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