The Florida Panthers outlasted the Buffalo Sabres last night 4-3. The win was their second straight on the road and it came just 24 hours after thrashing the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 the previous night.
With the win in Buffalo, the Panthers completed their first sweep of road games on back-to-back nights since February 11-12, 2012 when they downed the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders on back-to-back nights. That may seem like a long time between winning road back-to-backs, but it is actually not abnormal. A look at the numbers from the last few seasons tells us that winning on consecutive nights on the road is one of the toughest feats to accomplish in the NHL.
Consider this, from 2011-2014 NHL teams have played 362 sets of back-to-back road games and only 64 times has that team won both games. That is only 17.7% of the time. During the past three seasons, seven teams have failed to sweep a single back-to-back road series and seven more teams have accomplished the feat only once.
If we factor in the Panthers beating the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of the two victories, the numbers get even more impressive. In the past three seasons, teams have played back-to-back road games that include a trip to Pittsburgh 23 times. Of those 23 instances, only three teams have emerged from the back-to-back with two victories under their belt. The Anaheim Ducks did it in February of 2012, the Philadelphia Flyers did it this November and the Florida Panthers completed the task on Monday and Tuesday with wins in Pittsburgh and Buffalo.
To put it simply, the Penguins are a tough team to play regardless of the venue or schedule. When you factor in playing the Pens in Pittsburgh as a part of two games in two nights on the road, well let’s just say things can get hopeless pretty fast.
Winning back-to-back road games in Pittsburgh and Buffalo is just another example of impressive wins this season that indicate that the Panthers have the ability to hang with the NHL’s elite. Beating the Penguins twice, taking the Blackhawks to OT, and beating the Ducks, Avalanche and Canucks in a span of seven days are just a few of the statement wins the Cats have pulled off this season.
If Florida’s accomplishments over the last two games are any indication of what is to come, those wins may cease to be statement wins and start to become business as usual.