Goalie Ed Belfour tied a franchise high on Thursday night with his 22nd consecutive start. Unfortunately Belfour and the Panthers came up just shy of the Eastern Conference leading Buffalo Sabres, losing 5-3.
The Panthers line of Martin Gelinas, Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss
continued their tear, accounting for all three of the Panthers goals on the night. Horton notched two goals while Stephen Weiss
added another. The trio now has 18 goals and 20 assists in the Panthers last 12 games. The Panthers collectively gave Buffalo goaltender Ty Conklin, who was making his first start as a Sabre, plenty of work on Thursday night. The Panthers put up 45 shots on goal, the most Buffalo has surrendered this season.
The opening draw saw some new faces in the Panthers line up on the ice. Rob Globke and David Booth, each of which started the season on the Panthers American Hockey League affiliate Rochester Americans, made their first career NHL starts. Globke has played in 15 games this season while Booth has played in 36 games with one goal and five assists (1-5-6). Team Captain Olli Jokinen snapped a three game goal streak at home in the loss on Thursday night.
The Panthers will square off on Saturday night against the New York Islanders in front of a potential sell out crowd. The Panthers had their fourth highest crowd of the season on Thursday night with 18,111 fans in attendance. The support at home has kept the Panthers in the thick of a very crowded Eastern Conference playoff hunt. The loss against Buffalo snapped a seven game home win streak for the Cats at the BankAtlantic Center. The team is now 8-2-1 in their last 10 home games.