Claude Giroux, the long-time Philadelphia Flyers captain who was traded to the Florida Panthers on March 19, keeps rolling along.
So do the Panthers.
Giroux had three assists Friday as Florida coasted to its ninth straight victory, a 6-1 win over visiting Winnipeg.
The 34-year-old winger never had three assists with the Flyers this season, but he has found a home on a line with left winger Jonathan Huberdeau and center Sam Bennett. Since being put together with Huberdeau on March 25, the two forwards have combined for 25 points in eight games.
“I think they just read off each other really well,” Florida coach Andrew Brunette told reporters in Sunrise, Fla.
Huberdeau, who had two goals and an assist Friday, and the Panthers are gearing for the playoffs.
“We have a special team,” he said. “We’re excited for what’s coming up.”
Florida is 11-1 since it acquired Giroux, who has 15 points (two goals, 13 assists) and a plus-6 rating in those 12 games. He has had six multiple-point games with the Panthers.
The Panthers’ nine-game winning streak is its longest of the season, surpassing its 8-0 start to 2021-22.
With eight games left, Florida (112 points) is in first place in the Atlantic Division, 10 points ahead of second-place Toronto (102). The Panthers have an eight-point lead over Carolina for the most points in the Eastern Conference.
Florida, which hasn’t won a playoff series since it reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1995-96, has almost double the points accumulated by the Flyers (57). (Philly will play in Buffalo on Saturday night, and rookie Egor Zamula will be paired with Ivan Provorov on the No. 1 defensive unit.)
Only Colorado (114), the Western Conference leader, has more points than Florida in the 32-team NHL.
The Philadelphia Flyers acquired right winger Owen Tippett (two goals in 13 games with Philly), a first-round pick in 2024, and a third-rounder in 2023 for Giroux, two prospects (Connor Bunnaman and German Rubtsov), and a fifth-round selection in 2024. The Flyers also retained half of Giroux’s salary/cap hit.