MIAMI (AP) — Struggling to score, the Florida Panthers hope the addition of one of the game’s all-time great offensive players will help them end their slide and keep them in the thick of the playoff race.READ MORE: Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie Arrested, Charged With Perjury
Jaromir Jagr is expected to make his Panthers debut as they try to avoid matching a season high with their fifth straight loss Saturday against an upbeat Buffalo Sabres team.
Though Florida (26-22-13) is one spot out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, it’s been outscored 15-4 in an 0-3-1 skid. The Panthers have been shut out or held to one goal six times while totaling 11 non-shootout goals while going 2-5-2 in nine.
While Jagr was mired in a career-high eight-game point drought before being acquired Thursday from New Jersey for two draft picks, the Panthers believe the NHL’s active points leader can provide a much-needed spark in their quest to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12.
The 43-year-old has 11 goals and 18 assists on the season.
“He’s an exciting guy to watch play,” Florida general manager Dale Tallon said. “He’s still got it. … We’re hopeful that Jaromir can lead these young guys to the promised land. It’s a win-win for us.”
Jagr, who began his career three years before the Panthers debuted in 1993-94, is fifth all-time with 1,784 points. He helped Pittsburgh win back-to-back Stanley Cups in his first two seasons and had nine points in 11 regular-seasongames after Boston acquired him in 2013 during its run to the Cup finals.
“If you can bring something to our team, it’s definitely going to be big for us,” goaltender Roberto Luongo said. “Hopefully he can add some offense on the power play and 5 on 5. We just want to keep it going and stay in the fight here.”READ MORE: Miami Weather: Expect More Rain In The Afternoon
Florida managed 20 shots – four in the first period – in a 3-0 loss to Chicago on Thursday. The Panthers haven’t scored on the power play in five games and are 2 for 24 in the last nine.
“That’s not going to get you any wins if you’re not getting pucks to the net,” leading scorer Nick Bjugstad, who has gone five games without a point, told the Panthers’ official website.
Florida has averaged 33.3 shots but scored nine goals while going 3-0-1 against Buffalo (19-38-5) this season. Luongo has shut out the Sabres in two of those contests and four times during a five-game winning streak in the overall series, yielding two goals on 134 shots in that span.
Though the lowly Sabres’ 113 non-shootout goals are by far the fewest in the NHL, they matched a season high without their two top scorers in Thursday’s 6-3 win over Vancouver. With All-Star Zemgus Girgensons (foot) out at least two weeks and Tyler Ennis (lower-body injury) day to day, Torrey Mitchell had two goals and Brian Gionta added one and two assists to help Buffalo to a second straight victory.
The Sabres, 3-1-2 in six, play the next five on the road where they’re 3-0-1 since losing 14 in a row.
“We want to keep building,” Gionta told the Sabres’ official website. “We know where we are in the season and we need to continue to play a certain way in order to have success. That’s the culture we’re trying to instill and have going forward. We can’t wait until next year for it.”
Gionta has a goal in each of his last two versus Florida.
Jagr doesn’t have a point in his last seven against the Sabres.MORE NEWS: Miami Beach Commission Appoints Alina Hudak As City Manager, First Woman To Hold The Position In The City
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