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Stanley Cup Final

Panthers go for first place in East as they visit Buffalo

Friday, 12.09.2011 / 1:26 AM / Schedule

NHL.com

The Florida Panthers are enjoying the rarified air of first place in the Southeast Division -- a height they haven't reached this late in the season in more than a decade. The Panthers, who haven't made the playoffs since 2000, will try to grab first place in the Eastern Conference when they visit Buffalo in one of four games on Friday's NHL schedule.

The Panthers will be trying for their second win in as many nights. They went into Boston on Thursday and blanked the Bruins 2-0 behind a 40-save shutout by Jose Theodore. Buffalo is coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday in which the Sabres blew a 3-0 lead.

A win will move the Panthers past the Flyers into the top spot in the East. The game gets under way at 7:30 p.m. ET, a half-hour after the evening's action starts with Toronto visiting Washington. The Caps are back home after Wednesday's 5-3 win at Ottawa, while the Leafs have been off for two days since losing 3-2 in overtime to New Jersey on Tuesday.

At 8:30 p.m. ET, Carolina tries to build on Wednesday's 5-3 win at Edmonton when it visits Winnipeg. The Jets are riding some momentum of their own after beating Boston 2-1 on Tuesday.

In the final game of the night, Edmonton hosts Colorado at 9:30 p.m. ET in a game that can be seen in Canada on TSN. The Avs lost 3-2 at Calgary on Thursday.

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery