Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Florida Panthers hockey team chose the perfect time to tie a streak not seen since 2008. Saturday’s victory over Buffalo gave the Panthers their fourth consecutive win, tying a 2008 streak, but more importantly, padded the team’s lead in the Southeast division.
The playoffs are just 11 games away in the NHL and Florida is trying its dead-level best not to look too far ahead. Florida’s 4-0 homestand came at a perfect time as the team continues to try to hold off both Washington and Winnipeg to clinch a playoff spot.
It would be the Panthers’ first playoff berth in several years and the remaining schedule is very favorable for the Cats getting a shot at chasing Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Florida plays a back-to-back set of games against the tough Philadelphia Flyers and a not-so-tough Carolina Hurricanes team. The Panthers are looking to avenge their last loss, which was a 5-0 shellacking at the hands of the Flyers. Florida is undefeated against Carolina this season.
After those games, the Panthers get a few games against some of the worst teams in the NHL including: Edmonton, the New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, and Columbus Blue Jackets.
“We’re not looking ahead but we know we want to bank as many points as we can right now,” said defenseman Ed Jovanovski to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald. “We want to keep climbing the standings as much as we can. There are a handful of games left and they aren’t getting easier. It’s going to be tough getting points now.”
Florida’s last victory, a thrilling overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres, saw the Cats win in an extended shootout that ended with goalie Jose Theodore stoning a Sabres player who tried to go through the five-hole on Jose.
According to the Herald, the Panthers can go 5-5-1 over the remaining games and still have a 99.9 percent chance of making the playoffs and have an 84 percent chance of winning the division.
If Florida wins the Southeast Division, the team will be the third overall seed in the Eastern Conference. Florida could move as high as second, depending on how the team plays down the stretch.