After the Buffalo Sabres ended a lengthy slide to one team from Florida, they have a chance to halt their road struggles against the other.
The surging Sabres can win three straight away from home for the first time in four seasons by snapping a four-game road skid to the Panthers on Thursday night.
Jack Eichel had a goal with an assist and Chad Johnson made 30 saves to help Buffalo (7-8-0) snap a seven-game skid to Tampa Bay with Tuesday's 4-1 victory.
“It's great to beat them and build some confidence off that game,” said Eichel, the second overall pick in this year's draft.
Winners in four of the last five, the Sabres are off to their best start since 2011-12. They had no more than three wins through 15 games in each of the past three seasons.
Eichel, second on the team with nine points, has three goals and three assists in the last five contests.
“It's great,” said Eichel, who turned 19 last month. “I just want to keep putting the puck on net.”
The Sabres have killed 13 of their opponents' last 14 power plays and are converting 23.5 percent of their own chances to rank among the league leaders.
Buffalo has allowed one goal in each of its last two games on the road, where it hasn't won three in a row since March 2012. After winning nine road games in 2014-15 and eight the previous season, the Sabres have split their first six away from the First Niagara Center.
“We've battled pretty hard this year,” said forward Marcus Foligno, who scored his first of the season Tuesday.
The Sabres, though, have lost eight of nine to the Panthers (6-6-3) after last month's 3-2 defeat at Florida and haven't beaten them on the road since Oct. 25, 2013.
Jaromir Jagr had two goals with an assist in the Oct. 15 win over Buffalo, and his tiebreaker in the third period Tuesday helped the Panthers end an 0-3-2 skid with a 4-3 victory over Calgary. He also had an assist while snapping a four-game point drought, but like his teammates wasn't completely happy with Florida's collective effort.
“We won, that's a good thing,” said Jagr, who has a team-leading 12 points. “We feel like we didn't play our best. Everybody felt like we should play a little better.
“We have to make sure we play our best hockey and get some wins together.”
Florida needs to improve on the defensive end, having yielded 12 goals in the last three games and allowing two straight opponents to score on their only power-play chance.
“You can't be satisfied with a win; you want to be satisfied with the process,” goaltender Roberto Luongo said.
Luongo snapped a three-game skid while making 25 saves Tuesday, but he's allowed at least three goals in six of his last eight starts. However, he's posted a 1.00 goals-against average while winning seven straight starts against the Sabres, including a 24-save effort last month.
Teammate Vincent Trocheck recorded his second goal in three games Tuesday and is one shy of matching his career high of seven, set in 50 games last season.
Johnson, who yielded 14 goals in three starts prior to handling the Lightning, made 26 saves against the Panthers last month.
- Buffalo Sabres
- Chad Johnson
- Florida Panthers
- Jack Eichel
- Jaromir Jagr
- Marcus Foligno
- Roberto Luongo
- Vincent Trocheck