Panthers kick off road trip vs. Sabres

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( - The Florida Panthers will try for a positive start to a lengthy road trip when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for Friday's battle at First Niagara Center.

Florida went 2-1-1 on a recent four-game homestand, but lost the last two games of that residency. The Panthers hope to avoid their first three-game skid since early November when they play the first of six straight on the road tonight.

The Panthers, who last lost three straight from Nov. 4-8, are coming off a lopsided loss on New Year's Eve when the New York Rangers notched a 5-2 victory at BB&T Center.

Tomas Fleischmann and Jimmy Hayes scored once each for Florida, which fell to 5-3-2 over its last 10 outings. Al Montoya surrendered all five markers on 34 shots in defeat.

"They dominated most of the night," Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant said.

Roberto Luongo will get the start tonight for Florida. The veteran netminder boasts excellent career numbers against Buffalo, going 12-6-0 with a 1.84 goals against average, .940 save percentage and four shutouts in this matchup.

Florida is 7-5-6 as the visiting team this season. The club will continue its swing Sunday in Washington.

Buffalo has fallen on hard times after posting a 10-3-0 mark from Nov. 15-Dec. 15. The club has followed that stretch by losing six of its last seven games.

The Sabres lost their second straight game on New Year's Eve, losing a 5-1 decision to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. It marked the fifth time in seven games that Buffalo had allowed five or more goals.

Tyler Ennis had the lone goal for the Sabres on Wednesday, while Jhonas Enroth allowed all five goals on 25 shots.

Buffalo only managed to put 11 shots on goal in the loss and was outshot 14-1 in the third period.

"We couldn't get out of our end and they had the puck most of the third," said Ennis. "When they have the puck for as long as they did we're not going to get many shots."

With Buffalo also playing on the road tomorrow against the Rangers, it's uncertain if Enroth or backup Michal Neuvirth will get the start tonight.

Tonight's tilt marks the third of four meetings this season between the Panthers and Sabres. The clubs have split two encounters so far in 2014-15, with each team picking up a win on home ice. Buffalo halted a four-game losing streak in the series -- both overall and at home -- with a 4-3 overtime win on Dec. 13.

The Sabres, who are kicking off a four-game road trip on Saturday, are 10-9-2 as the host this season.