The Panthers are currently riding a four-game winning streak.
In road games, that is.
While the Panthers have not been able to string together three consecutive wins yet, they haven’t lost a road game since way back on Dec. 15 when they lost 4-3 in a shootout to the host Winnipeg Jets.
Florida goes for its fifth consecutive road win Tuesday as it embarks on a four-game run which takes the Panthers through western Canada as well as a stop in the Arizona desert before heading back home.
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“We have to stay in the fight here,” said coach Tom Rowe, whose team plays in Calgary on Tuesday night. “We’re trying to catch that eighth spot [in the Eastern Conference] so every point is going to be huge.”
The Panthers got an early start to their trip by leaving Fort Lauderdale on Sunday afternoon. The team got to their hotel on Sunday and practiced in Calgary on Monday morning.
Getting an opportunity to get acclimated not only to the time change but the altitude is a benefit of being able to travel west a little early.
“I think it’s good to get out there ahead of time,” Rowe said. “I think it’s great to have the support of ownership to be able to go out to places like this a few days early. This isn’t cheap and our players appreciate it. We’re going to get time to practice, time to have meetings.”
The Panthers left town in a much better mood than they were in on Friday night.
Saturday night’s win over the visiting Blue Jackets helped the Panthers get off the ground with, at least, a better feeling about themselves.
Beating the Blue Jackets helped wash some of the dirt off Friday’s home loss to the Islanders.
“Getting a win helps put us in a better spot regardless,” goalie James Reimer said. “We’re going on the road and you try and win that first one, then see how the rest shake out. Any time a team has success on the road, people start wondering why. We had 27 road wins in San Jose last year and no one knew how that happened.
“Some of it is guys coming together on the road, less distractions. But we seem to play our best on the road. We just need to mimic that at home.”
▪ Florida’s roster is at the max of 23 after recalling defenseman Dylan McIlrath from its AHL affiliate in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Panthers said McIlrath was only going to Springfield for a few games to get in some games after being a healthy scratch for all but four games since coming to the team in a trade for Steven Kampfer on Nov. 8.
Instead, McIlrath spent an extra week in the minors and played in six games for the Thunderbirds, scoring a goal with an assist. McIlrath didn’t seem much ice time with the Rangers nor their AHL team before the trade, playing in just one game for the Rangers and five for the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack.
▪ Center Nick Bjugstad is still a few games away from returning from a groin injury but Rowe said Bjugstad has begun skating and continues to do a lot of work on the stationary bike.
“He’s going to be the Tour de France, no problem,” Rowe quipped.
Tuesday: Panthers at Flames
When/where: 9 p.m.; Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, Alberta.
TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WMEN 640.
Series: Calgary leads 15-11-3.
Scouting report: The Flames are 3-3-1 this month yet have lost their past two going into a three-game homestand which kicks off against the Panthers. Calgary beat Florida here 6-0 following the Panthers’ 12-game winning streak coming to a close last season. The Panthers are 2-1-1 in their past four visits to the Saddledome.