SUNRISE (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Florida Panthers are finally back home and their grizzled superstar may have a holiday treat for the fans.
Jaromir Jagr is within reach of a memorable milestone as the Panthers prepare to open a five-game homestand with a visit from the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
The 44-year-old Jagr needs only three points to move into a tie with Hall of Famer Mark Messier for second place on the league’s all-time scoring list.
Florida returns home after playing nine of its last 11 on the road and avoided a winless three-game trek with a 3-1 victory at Colorado on Friday night.
The upcoming schedule offers a solid chance for the Panthers to climb up the standings, especially with the next four games against Atlantic Division foes.
The Sabres are coming off a 2-1 shootout loss at Carolina but have earned points in five of their last six games (3-1-2).
Although Buffalo sits in last place in the division, it is only two points behind fourth-place Tampa Bay and Florida with two games in hand.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, MSG-B (Buffalo)
ABOUT THE SABRES (12-11-7): Coach Dan Bylsma shuffled his lines in the third period against Carolina and it paid dividends with a dominating 20 minutes and an eventual tying goal by Evander Kane.
Marcus Foligno had an assist on the goal and his reward was a move alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart during Monday’s practice session.
“We moved Marcus around in the game and I thought his third period was his best by a mile,” Bylsma said. “That’s the way we need him to play for 60 minutes, for every period.”
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (14-13-5): Reilly Smith is showing signs of breaking out of his deep offensive slumber, scoring in back-to-back contests to double his goal total from the previous 17 games.
A 25-goal scorer last season, Smith had one point in a 10-game stretch before collecting two goals and five assists over the last nine contests.
“Reilly is playing like he did last year,” Florida interim coach Tom Rowe said. “He came out of the gate a little slow, but when you’re a guy who the other team is targeting and checking, it’s not as easy.”
- Panthers owner Vincent Viola was nominated for Secretary of the Army by President-elect Donald Trump.
- Bylsma needs one victory to reach 300 for his career.
- Florida is 3-3-5 since Rowe replaced the fired Gerard Gallant.
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