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BUFFALO (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – An incredible six weeks by the Florida Panthers has them enjoying a three point cushion for first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Panthers look to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 10 contests when they begin a six-game road trip against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
The Panthers completed a perfect six-game homestand with Sunday’s 2-1 triumph over Minnesota and have won eight of their last 10 on the road.
“The road has been good to us,” Florida coach Gerard Gallant told reporters. “We keep our game simple and the guys have been focused.”
Roberto Luongo is expected back in net after resting Sunday, bringing a personal seven-game winning streak to Buffalo – where he has posted three straight shutouts.
Rookie Jack Eichel has been red-hot of late with 11 points in his last seven games, but the Sabres have dropped four consecutive contests – the last two by a goal.
“We’ve done a lot of good things in the last little bit, but we just haven’t had the results,” Sabres forward Jamie McGinn told the Buffalo News. “At the end of the day, we need to win hockey games.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, MSG, BELL TV (Buffalo)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (23-12-4): Florida has struggled on the power play of late, going 2-for-25 over its last five games, but has allowed only 11 goals during its winning streak.
Veteran Jaromir Jagr leads the team with 13 tallies after scoring three in the last three games and pushing his career total to 735 – six behind Brett Hull for third place on the all-time list.
Reigning Calder Trophy winner Aaron Ekblad has played a big part in the team’s rise, recording five goals and a plus-12 rating in his last 18 games.
ABOUT THE SABRES (15-20-4): Buffalo has had problems in the third period during its slide, giving up the go-ahead goal with just under three minutes to go in the 4-3 loss to Detroit on Saturday while yielding four tallies in the final session to lose at Washington on Dec. 30.
Leading scorer Ryan O’Reilly has recorded 15 goals and 18 assists but has been limited to one point and owns a minus-5 rating over his last four contests.
Tyler Ennis is questionable with an upper-body injury and Nicolas Deslauriers is out for the next three-to-five weeks with a foot ailment.
- Eichel trails Detroit’s Dylan Larkin (14) by one goal for the league lead among rookies.
- Florida LW Jonathan Huberdeau has notched a team-high 22 assists, including eight in his last seven contests.
- Three of Buffalo’s four goals in its last two games came on the power play after a 0-of-21 drought with the man advantage.
The Panthers face the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, January 5th at 7:00 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
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