The Florida Panthers are heading to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years, but they have their sights on an even more long-awaited prize.
The Panthers will try to wrap up their first division title in franchise history in Saturday night's season finale against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.
Florida (37-26-18) ended the league's longest playoff drought and one of the longest among the four major North American sports leagues when Buffalo lost to Philadelphia on Thursday.
"It's been tough," said center Stephen Weiss, who has spent all 10 seasons with the franchise. "You go home early in the summer and you wonder if you're doing the right thing for yourself, for your career. You want to be loyal, but at the same time you only get so many years to play, and you want to try and play playoff hockey and win Stanley Cups. I'm excited to get my first taste."
The Panthers, though, once again failed to clinch the Southeast Division title with a 4-2 loss to second-place Washington ...