SUNRISE, Fla. —
This is where it has gotten tricky for the Florida Panthers
For the fifth time this season, they’re riding a three-game winning streak as heading into Saturday night’s contest against the Buffalo Sabres
at the BankAtlantic Center.
But they’re still looking for that first four-game winning streak. In fact, the Panthers haven’t won four in a row since March of 2008 when they set a franchise record by reeling off seven consecutive victories.
That’s four years without a four-game winning streak.
“Let’s try to have tonight be the night to break that whole image of the Florida Panthers
win streak,” said wing Kris Versteeg
, who will be back in the lineup after missing the last nine games with a lower-body injury.
The Sabres already stopped one Florida three-game winning streak this season with a 2-1 overtime decision at Buffalo on Dec. 9.
Florida had another three-game streak end with an overtime loss, this time at Tampa Bay on Nov. 25.
But the last two three-game streaks ended with a thud, with a 6-2 home loss to Ottawa on Feb. 15 and with a 7-0 rout at Winnipeg on March 1.
The Panthers got their current streak with home victories over Carolina (2-0), Toronto (5-2) and Boston (6-2).
A victory over Buffalo would conclude a perfect 4-0 homestand. A victory in regulation would give Florida its first four-game streak of regulation victories since all the way back in February of 2001 — two of the victories in the March 2008 came in overtime.
More importantly, though, a victory over Buffalo would get the Panthers closer to a playoff berth, something they haven’t done since 2000.
“We look at this as a key stretch and we’re still right in the middle of it,” coach Kevin Dineen
said. “We have to respect our opponent, know that we have a team that’s coming in that’s playing a good stretch of hockey right now and they are surging. It has great implications for us as well as them. It will make for a very exciting game, I think.”