* No strangers to wild comeback wins this season, Florida rallied past Minnesota at Xcel Energy Center via a go-ahead goal scored in the dying seconds of regulation by Noel Acciari.
* In his final game before captaining the Central Division at the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, Nathan MacKinnon tallied twice and became the fourth player to reach the 30-goal mark this season.
* Cale Makar matched the single-season franchise record for points by a rookie defenseman, reaching the mark in nearly half the games required by the Nordiques blueliner who did so nearly 35 years ago.
ACCIARI SCORES WINNER IN DYING SECONDS AS PANTHERS EXTEND STREAK
Minnesota overcame three separate deficits and took a 4-3 lead in the third period, but Keith Yandle (1-3—4) assisted on a tying goal by Vincent Trocheck with 4:08 remaining in regulation as Florida pulled even. Noel Acciari then scored the go-ahead goal with 5.6 seconds remaining in regulation as the Panthers extended their win streak to five games – tied with the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets for the longest active run in the NHL.
* Acciari (59:54) scored the franchise’s second-latest go-ahead goal in regulation (regular season or playoffs), one second shy of the winner tallied by Trocheck (59:55) on Feb. 20, 2017 (2-1 W at STL). Acciari recorded his team-leading fifth game-winning goal of the season, two of which have been scored to cap comeback victories (also Oct. 14, 2019: 6-4 W at NJD).
* The Panthers won a regular-season game in regulation after surrendering three separate leads for the third time in franchise history, following Oct. 25, 1997 (5-4 W at BOS) and Oct. 23, 2010 (4-3 W vs. BOS).
* Florida (27-16-5, 59 points), which puts its five-game win streak on the line tonight versus Chicago, occupies third in the Atlantic Division standings and moved two points ahead of fourth-place Toronto (25-17-7, 57 points). The Panthers were five points back of the Maple Leafs when their run began on Jan. 9, as outlined in the graphic below.
DID YOU KNOW?
Keith Yandle, 33, established a career high with four points and became the first Panthers blueliner to record as many in a game since Brian Campbell on Oct. 17, 2011 (0-4—4 at TBL). He became the 17th player in NHL history listed as a defenseman to record his first career game with four-plus points at age 33 or older (regular season or playoffs), last accomplished by Calgary’s Mark Giordano on Nov. 1, 2018 (1-3—4 vs. COL).
* The oldest blueliner in League history at the time of his first four-point game was Pittsburgh’s Tim Horton, who achieved the feat just days after his 42nd birthday on Jan. 15, 1972 (0-4—4 vs. PHI).
MacKINNON REACHES 30-GOAL MARK IN FINAL GAME BEFORE ALL-STAR BREAK
Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, who is set to serve as Central Division captain at the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, scored twice to record his third straight 30-goal season (30-42—72 in 49 GP). He became the fifth player in Avalanche/Nordiques history to reach 30 goals in three-plus consecutive seasons and second to do so since the club relocated to Denver in 1995-96.
* Cale Makar assisted on goals by MacKinnon and Nazem Kadri (2-1—3) to register his seventh career multi-point game and boost his 2019-20 totals to 11-26—37 (41 GP). He matched the franchise record for most points in a season by a rookie defenseman, a mark set by Quebec’s Bruce Bell in 1984-85 (6-31—37 in 75 GP).
* Makar is on pace to conclude the campaign with 67 points, which would be the fourth-most in a single NHL season by a rookie defenseman behind Los Angeles’ Larry Murphy in 1980-81 (16-60—76 in 80 GP), New York’s Brian Leetch in 1988-89 (23-48—71 in 68 GP) and Calgary’s Gary Suter in 1985-86 (18-50—68 in 80 GP).
* Colorado (28-15-6, 62 points), which contested its final outing before the All-Star break and occupies second place in the Central Division standings, concluded its five-game homestand without a regulation loss (3-0-2). The Avalanche earned at least one point in a homestand of five-plus games for the first time since Oct. 25 – Nov. 8, 2005 (5-0-1).
PREVIEW OF TODAY’S ACTION
QUENNEVILLE RETURNS TO UNITED CENTER AFTER COACH OF THE DECADE NOD
Florida head coach Joel Quenneville, who served in the same capacity with Chicago for parts of 11 seasons from 2008-09 to 2018-19 and won three Stanley Cup championships in a six-year span (2010, 2013 and 2015), returns to United Center for the first time when the Panthers visit the Blackhawks.
* Quenneville owns the second-most regular-season wins by a head coach in NHL history and earned 452 of his 917 career victories with Chicago. He was recently chosen by NHL.com and NHL.com International staff members as the Coach of the Decade, with the Blackhawks – under his guidance for the lion’s share of the 2010s – subsequently named the Franchise of the Decade.