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Panthers Look to Continue Success in 2nd Half of Back-to-Backs

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop /

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Florida Panthers will look to continue their success in the second half of back-to-backs this season when they host the Buffalo Sabres at BB&T Center on Sunday at 5 p.m.

Hoping to bounce back after having their three-game winning streak snapped in a 4-2 loss at Carolina less than 24 hours earlier, the Panthers have done an exceptional job of turning the page quickly throughout the season, registering a 2-1-1 record in Game 2 of back-to-backs.

"It's part of being a pro, back-to-backs all the time," said Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who has notched three goals over his last two games. "We've got to find a way to be a little better tomorrow. Ten percent [more] from each guy and we're going to be fine."

After charging out to an early 2-0 lead against the Hurricanes, the Panthers surrendered three unanswered goals to earn just their sixth regulation loss of the season. Still, the team has won seven of its last 11 games overall and currently occupies second place in the Atlantic Division.

Despite a bump in the road, Ekblad believes the team can build off its strong start in Carolina.

"A big emphasis on our game was to start on time, start quick. I thought we did that," Ekblad said. "That's one of the big positives of this game that we can take out. We had a good start, got two quick goals. We've just got to keep moving forward here and now dwell on it."

Not dwelling has been a big part of Florida's success all season long. Yet to lose consecutive games in regulation, the team has never gone more than one game without earning a point.

Jonathan Huberdeau leads the team in scoring with 30 points and is tied with Evgenii Dadonov and Brett Connolly for the most goals with 10. Right behind him is linemate Aleksander Barkov, who has notched 29 points and currently possesses the fifth-most assists in the league with 22.

Overall, the Panthers currently own the league's second-ranked offense (3.61 goals per game).

While the team has yet to announce a goaltender, backup Sam Montembeault has closed out each back-to-back so far this season. In six appearances, the 23-year-old owns a 3-1-1 record -- including three shootout wins -- with a 2.96 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.

At the other end of the ice, the Sabres (10-9-3) have dropped nine of their last 10 contests, including a 3-2 loss in Boston on Thursday that stretched their losing streak to three games.

"It's a team that's really desperate for a win, and we're sitting in our building there," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said of hosting Buffalo. "Let's be excited about it… Get yourself angry in the right way tomorrow."

One of the biggest issues for the Sabres has been on offense, where the team has scored two or fewer goals in nine of its last 12 games. Still, despite that scoring drought, star forward Jack Eichel has managed to produce steadily, leading the team in both goals (13) and points (26).

In his career against the Panthers, however, Eichel has just one goal in 14 games.

"No one's feeling sorry for us," Eichel told reporters after a 4-1 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves. It's frustrating the position we're in. But it's just going to test our character right now, and our will to compete on a nightly basis, and just our will to win."

The Sabres have also yet to announce a starter for tonight's contest, so either Linus Ullmark or Carter Hutton will be in net. Ullmark was between the pipes the first time the two teams played this season, stopping 41 of 43 shots in a 3-2 shootout win against Florida in Buffalo on Oct. 11.

The Panthers have won eight of their last 10 games against the Sabres, including six straight at home.


-- Keith Yandle leads Florida's defensemen in points (18), including one goal and 13 assists over his last 12 games. Named the NHL's "Third Star of the Week" on Monday, the 33-year-old also ranks tied for fourth among the league's blueliners in points on the power play with 11.

-- Jonathan Huberdeau has earned at least one point in 18 of Florida's 23 games this season. Leading the team in scoring with 30 points, he's also tied for the lead in goals with 10. Over his last 11 contests, the 26-year-old winger has accumulated 17 points (five goals, 12 assists).

-- Evgenii Dadonov ranks third on Florida in points (20) and tied for first in goals (10).

-- Mike Hoffman has points in six of his last seven games, posting three goals and four assists in that span. The 29-year-old winger ranks fourth on the Panthers in goals (9) and tied for first in power-play goals (5). He also leads the team in shots on goal with 65.

-- Aaron Ekblad has accumulated 12 points (five goals, seven assists) over his last 17 games, including the first multi-goal game of his NHL career on Thursday against Anaheim. The 23-year-old defenseman also leads the team in average ice time, skating 24:09 per game.

-- Aleksander Barkov ranks second on the Panthers in points (29). His 22 assists lead the team and rank tied for fifth in the league. Over his last 15 games, the 24-year-old center has produced seven goals and 16 assists.

-- Brett Connolly is tied for first on Florida in goals (10), including four in his last four games.

-- The Panthers have surrendered a power-play goal in just eight of 23 games this season.



Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Evgenii Dadonov

Brian Boyle - Vincent Trocheck - Brett Connolly

Frank Vatrano - Denis Malgin - Mike Hoffman

Dominic Toninato - Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour


Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad

Mark Pysyk - Anton Stralman

Mike Matheson - Josh Brown


Sam Montembeault

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratches: Riley Stillman, MacKenzie Weegar (upper-body), Jayce Hawryluk (upper-body)


- Nov. 24: D Riley Stillman was recalled from AHL Springfield.

- Nov. 18: F Dominic Toninato was recalled from AHL Springfield.

- Nov. 18: F Dryden Hunt was loaned to AHL Springfield.


- 50/50 Raffle

- Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Takeover Night

- Hockey Fights Cancer Stick Auction at Foundation Table outside Club Lexus


- The Perfect Burger (Plant Based) for $12 at Select Concession Stands


When: Sunday, Nov. 24, 5:00 p.m. ET

Where: BB&T Center - Sunrise, FL


Stream: FOX Sports GO

Panthers Radio Network: 790 WAXY (Dade/Broward); 850 WFTL (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys)

Tickets: HERE

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