The Florida Panthers have been on the outside looking in at the playoff picture all season. After going 3-1-0 on their recent road trip through Canada, they’re headed home for a five-game homestand and feeling good about themselves as they sit 10 points back of Detroit in the Atlantic Division.
As Harvey Fialkov of The Sun-Sentinel shares, the team is looking at their upcoming run of home games as critical to their hopes of getting into the playoff race.
“Getting a good road trip means nothing if you don’t have a good homestand,” Panthers forward Shawn Matthias said after practice Sunday morning. “It makes or breaks your season. We’ve had a few good weeks; now we got to take advantage of it.”
Going beyond their road trip, the Panthers have won seven of their last nine and, unsurprisingly, their wins have come in games where they’ve limited opponents to either one or two goals. With Tim Thomas out that means Jakob Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen have done their part to hold things down.
If the Panthers can find a way to improve on their 7-7-3 home record, things just might get more interesting in the Atlantic.
Didn’t take long for Jack Eichel to make his mark at the NHL level.
The No. 2 overall pick at this year’s draft scored his first-ever NHL goal in his first-ever NHL game on Thursday night, cutting Ottawa’s lead to 2-1 in the third period of Buffalo’s season-opener.
Marcus Foligno and another new Sabre, Evander Kane, registered the assists on Eichel’s marker, which came on the power play.
Chances are Robin Lehner won’t look back fondly on his first game as a Sabre.
Midway through Buffalo’s season-opener against Ottawa, Lehner — facing his old team for the first time since getting traded this summer — suffered a lower-body injury, and was forced from the contest.
During the second intermission, the Sabres ruled out Lehner for the night.
It was a difficult turn of events for 24-year-old, who admitted he was keen to go up against the Sens. He had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about his time in the Canadian capital; Lehner felt he never got a full opportunity to run with the No. 1 gig, and probably wasn’t thrilled GM Bryan Murray opted to keep Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond instead of him.
As for tonight’s injury, details are scarce. All that’s known is the ailment was serious enough for Lehner to leave and not return, forcing backup Chad Johnson into duty.
Prior to getting hurt, Lehner had stopped 11 of 12 shots faced.