Reporting Tim Kephart
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (CBSMiami) – When the Florida Panthers take the ice in Winnipeg Thursday night, the team will be looking for a fourth straight victory and to extend its lead in the Southeast Division.
Florida is looking for its first playoff berth in more than a decade, which is the longest such streak in the National Hockey League. But the Panthers are in prime position to end that streak as the team is in first place heading into the final full month of the regular season.
“When you’ve got a history as an organization (of not making the playoffs), you’ve got to acknowledge that,” first-year Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “It makes it that much more special that we’re in the playoff race this season.”
For Florida, it’s been a tale of two streaks recently. The Panthers went from losing four straight to possibly winning four straight. The wins have come at a perfect time for the team to try and build a lead in the Southeast.
Currently, the Panthers are three points ahead of the Washington Capitals and four points ahead of Winnipeg Jets. The Panthers are the only team leading their division in the NHL despite being outscored for the season by 14 goals.
Recent history is on the side of the Panthers in the Jets series. Florida has won the last three meetings with leading scorer Kris Versteeg totaling six goals and two assists during those games.
Winnipeg is hoping to keep pace with Florida, but is coming off a 5-3 loss to Edmonton on Monday that pushed their record during a current homestand to 3-1-2.
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