Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 3/17/12
Barring a collapse, the Florida Panthers are headed for their first postseason appearance since 1999-2000. The Buffalo Sabres can't afford to leave points behind like they did last game if they hope to join Florida in the playoffs. On the verge of their longest winning streak in four years, the Panthers close out a four-game homestand Saturday night against the Sabres, winners of four of five in this series. Southeast Division-leading Florida (34-23-13) extended its home winning streak to four with its third consecutive victory overall, defeating Boston 6-2 on Thursday. The Panthers have outscored opponents 17-6 during their modest run at BankAtlantic Center. "We want to play well at home to enthuse our fan base," coach Kevin Dineen said. "We want to be homers, be a good home team. I think we've shown that." Despite its recent success, Florida, which hasn't posted four consecutive victories since a seven-game run March 2-16, 2008, knows it can't afford to take its foot off the pedal. "These games are so crucial to everybody for that matter," center John Madden, who scored his first goal in 20 games this season, told the team's official website "It's not going to change. It doesn't matter if you're the New York Rangers at the top right now, you want to stay there so you have to consistency going or you're us or you're Buffalo climbing your way back up. "We have to keep building and looking towards playoff hockey and we have got to start now." Only a few points outside the congested Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Sabres (33-29-9) squandered away a point their last time out. Buffalo appeared headed for a third straight win Wednesday before Colorado scored with two seconds remaining in regulation and ultimately won 5-4 in a shootout. The Sabres also allowed the game-tying goal with five seconds left in the third period Monday before defeating Montreal 3-2 in overtime. "It's disappointing and it's a tough point to lose," right winger Jason Pominville told the team's official website. "That's all we can say. We've got to find a way to shut it down when we have a one-goal lead with not a lot of time left." Ryan Miller, meanwhile, surrendered more than three goals for the first time in nearly a month, dropping to 9-1-2 with a 1.95 goals-against average over his last 12 games. "I'm not real happy about that. Don't know what to say. It's two games in a row. This time we got bit and we've got to be better next time," Miller said. "We just have to be in desperation mode at all times." A visit to south Florida could help Miller put Wednesday's result behind him. The former Vezina Trophy winner has gone 7-2-0 with a 1.77 GAA and two shutouts during his last nine road meetings with the Panthers. He turned away all 22 shots in a 3-0 road win Oct. 20. Jose Theodore has also proven pretty stingy for Florida of late, especially at home. He made 24 saves versus the Bruins, improving to 10-3-3 with a 1.91 GAA in his last 19 home games. Buffalo's Tyler Myers will serve the second of his three-game suspension for a hit against Canadiens forward Scott Gomez, while fellow defenseman Andrej Sekera (pneumonia) could miss his sixth straight contest. Panthers left winger Kris Versteeg might make his much-anticipated return following a nine-game absence due to a lower-body injury.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Hawks suspend Dennis Schroder for one game

Mike Pereira: Chips in footballs wouldn’t improve spotting

Tony Romo takes great shot at Jimmy Kimmel ahead of Oscars

Report: Pelicans sign veteran G Jarrett Jack

Carmelo Anthony does not understand direction of Knicks

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ricky Rubio opens up about ‘tough’ buildup to trade deadline

Chiefs sign RB C.J. Spiller

Shaq gets into epic Twitter brawl with JaVale McGee

Ben Simmons won’t play for the Sixers this season

Chad Kelly might show up to combine despite not being invited

Teams could not get in touch with Phil Jackson before trade deadline

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

Nintendo is finally, thankfully embracing sports and eSports

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

The top 10 MLB third basemen heading into spring training

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker