Florida Panthers

After extended road run, Florida Panthers happy to be home for the holidays

Florida Panthers ready for holiday homestand

The Florida Panthers have played nine of their past 11 on the road but are home until New Year's Eve as they host five divisional opponents through the holidays.
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The Florida Panthers have played nine of their past 11 on the road but are home until New Year's Eve as they host five divisional opponents through the holidays.

The Florida Panthers got a longer stay in Denver than they hoped.

Now, they’re home for an extended stay and looking to do a little damage.

After playing nine of their past 11 games on the road — and being stuck in Colorado an extra day because of a snow storm — the Panthers kick off a five-game homestand Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Florida will be home, save for some traveling home for Christmas, until visiting the Dallas Stars on New Year’s Eve.

“It’s time to get a winning streak going,” Nick Bjugstad said. “Obviously we had a lot of games in a few nights and mostly did a pretty good job. We’re kind of flirting with a winning streak and I think we have it in us.”

In all, eight of Florida’s next nine will be played on home ice.

“We have a lot of home games and we always like playing here,” Sasha Barkov said. “We had a six game trip and then came back for two and were back on the road. It felt like we were gone the whole month. Now it feels like we’ll be here for forever. We’re just going to enjoy being here.”

Florida is 8-5 on home ice and play host to nothing but Atlantic Division opponents on this holiday homestand.

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The Panthers came into Monday four points back of Boston for third place — and a playoff spot — in the division.

“It’s time for us right now,” Derek MacKenzie said. “It has taken a couple years to change the culture here and the proof is in the pudding. We’re a game over .500 and it feels like a disappointment. That’s a good thing.”

▪ Jonathan Marchessault missed Friday’s win over the Avalanche with what is believed to be a groin injury that has slowed him over the past month.

Marchessault practiced Monday and coach Tom Rowe said he’s a game-time decision for Buffalo.

“He was good and I think he’ll be fine,” Rowe said. “It’s going to be up to him and the medical staff.”

Tuesday: Sabres at Panthers

When/where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.

TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WMEN 640.

Series: Buffalo leads 47-38-4.

Scouting report: The Sabres have points in three consecutive games and wins in two. Former Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov makes his first appearance in Sunrise since being traded to Buffalo in July.

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