Sports

Jagr, Panthers seek to get on track vs. Sabres

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers hope the addition of Jaromir Jagr can help get their playoff quest back on track as they aim to halt a four-game slide in Saturday's home clash against the Buffalo Sabres.

Florida enters today's tilt on a 0-3-1 losing streak and finds itself four points behind Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. However, the club added Jagr, a 43-year-old winger, to the mix on Thursday, sending a pair of draft picks to New Jersey in exchange for the veteran scorer.

Jagr posted 11 goals and 18 assists in 57 games with the Devils this season, placing him third on the club in points. The NHL's active leader in points (1,784) will make his debut today and Florida general manager Dale Tallon is betting the Czech legend can help the Panthers out as they try to make the playoffs for only the second time in 14 seasons.

"His fitness level is second to none," Tallon said of his new addition. "He's an exciting guy to watch play and he's still got it."

Jagr also is the NHL's active leader in power-play goals with 202 and the hope is he can aid a Florida team that ranks 27th in the league on the man advantage.

"We're in a battle right now for the playoffs," Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo said. "So if he can bring something to our team, it's definitely going to be big for us. Hopefully he can bring some offense on the power play and 5- on-5."

Florida has scored only four goals during its current skid and was handed a 3-0 loss Thursday in the finale of a home-and-home series with Chicago. The Blackhawks posted a 3-2 shootout win on home ice before shutting out the Panthers at BB&T Center.

Luongo gave up two goals on 28 shots in the loss.

The Panthers began a seven-game homestand on Thursday and fell to 12-9-6 as the host. Florida will host rival Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Florida has dominated the Sabres lately, winning six of the last seven encounters in the series. Buffalo has dropped two straight at BB&T Center.

However, the Sabres are entering South Florida having won two straight, giving the NHL's basement dwellers consecutive wins for the first time since rattling off four victories in a row from Dec. 9-15.

The Sabres won in Columbus on Tuesday before downing the visiting Vancouver Canucks. 6-3, on Thursday. Torrey Mitchell tallied twice while Brian Gionta picked up a goal and two assists to help Buffalo double up the Canucks.

Andrej Meszaros, Chris Stewart and Brian Flynn also lit the lamp with Matt Moulson adding a pair of helpers for the Sabres, who are 3-1-2 over their last six trips to the ice.

Michal Neuvirth came up with 28 saves. He is expected to start tonight when the Sabres begin a five-game road trip. Neuvirth is 3-6-1 with a 2.68 goals against average in his career versus the Panthers, while Luongo boasts a 13-6-0 mark and 1.75 GAA in 22 lifetime starts against Buffalo.

The Sabres are just 7-20-2 as the visiting club this season.