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Florida Panthers vs. Buffalo Sabres @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Florida Panthers (20-25-11-3) at Buffalo Sabres (27-26-5-1).

TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Buffalo Sabres could be headed to the playoffs if they keep this up.

The surging Sabres will go for their eight win in nine games when they host the Florida Panthers.

Buffalo, which has pulled within four points of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with 23 games to play, has scored 21 goals in its last three games, including Monday's 7-2 win over Atlanta. It was the team's best stretch since scoring 24 in three games from Dec. 31, 1992-Jan. 3, 1993.

The offensive outburst is also the most goals scored in the NHL in a three-game stretch since Pittsburgh scored 21 from March 23-26, 1996.

"It's good to see we can score six, seven, eight goals sometimes," Buffalo winger Miroslav Satan said. "It definitely gives us confidence we can play against any team.

"This shows we can win games in a much more comfortable way."

Satan scored four goals in Buffalo's win over Atlanta. Daniel Briere had a goal and two assists, while Ales Kotalik and Andy Delmore also scored.

The dominating win was a distinct turnaround from the Sabres' previous three games, each won after Buffalo fell behind.

The Sabres rallied from a 3-0 deficit for a 6-4 victory at Toronto on Saturday, and trailed Los Angeles 3-1 Friday, before rallying for an 8-3 win. The Sabres also overcame a 1-0 deficit before beating San Jose 2-1 on Tuesday.

"I don't care how we win it, whether we get down one or two, but as long as we win the game," coach Lindy Ruff said.

Florida has lost two straight and four of its last seven.

Goaltender Roberto Luongo made 20 saves in a 3-1 loss to Carolina on Monday. Juraj Kolnik scored with 49.3 seconds left for Florida after Luongo had been pulled for an extra attacker.

Luongo, who is tied for seventh in the NHL with a .931 save percentage, has faced a league-high 1,657 shots.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 16): Panthers - 54 points, 2nd place, 16 PB, Southeast Division. Sabres - 60 points, 5th place, 16 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 18 goals; Valeri Bure, 21 assists and 38 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 114 PIM. Sabres - Satan, 22 goals; Briere, 26 assists and 46 points; Andrew Peters, 107 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 16): Panthers - Power play: 16.7 percent (36 for 215), 10th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (216 for 256), 15th (tied). Sabres - Power play: 16.0 percent (41 for 256), 16th. Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (223 for 261), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Panthers - Luongo (17-25-10, 3 SO, 2.40 GAA); Steve Shields (3-3-1, 3.38). Sabres - Mika Noronen (11-13-1, 2, 2.22); Martin Biron (16-11-4, 2.52).


LAST MEETING: Nov. 28; Sabres, 4-3. At Buffalo, Briere scored two goals in the third period to lead the Sabres.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 8-16-5-1 on the road; Sabres - 16-10-3-1 at home.

Associated Press
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