After having their longest winning streak of the season snapped last time out, the Panthers return to Florida looking to set a new club record for most consecutive home victories as they battle the Edmonton Oilers.
Following a shootout loss to the Penguins on March 9, the Panthers rattled off five straight victories for their longest string of wins since a club-record seven-game run from March 2-16, 2008.
That string came to an end on Wednesday with a 3-1 setback at Carolina as Florida suffered its first regulation defeat since March 8. Tomas Fleischmann matched a career high with his 23rd goal of the season, while Jose Theodore made 36 saves.
"The overall intensity and will to win was certainly higher on their side tonight," said Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen of Carolina. "They're desperately looking for points right now to keep afloat in the playoff chase."
Florida still carries a four-point lead over Washington for first place in the Southeast Division into tonight's game and has nine contests left in the regular season compared to eight for the Capitals, who host the Jets this evening.
The Panthers' haven't lost at home since March 3, winning a club record-tying five straight as the host since. That matches the win streak the Panthers put together from Jan. 16-31, 2010.
Florida puts that run on the line tonight against Edmonton, which has points in five straight (3-0-2) and is coming off last night's 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Nikolai Khabibulin made 19 saves, but took the loss after getting beat in the sixth round of the tiebreaker. Linus Omark and Ladislav Smid had the regulation goals for the Oilers, with Smid tying the game with 3:47 to play in the third.
"We certainly worked hard and we were able to claw our way back and get a point out of it," said Edmonton head coach Tom Renney. "Whenever you get a point on the road it's good, but we played a hard game and I'm proud of the guys."
The Oilers, who played a third straight game minus forward Taylor Hall due to a concussion, have split the first two of a four-game road trip.
The Oilers have won two straight and six of their past seven versus the Panthers, taking the lone meeting last season by a 3-2 margin at home. Edmonton has claimed three straight trips to Florida, winning the past two by shootout.