Sabres aim to stay hot in home test vs. Panthers

(SportsNetwork.com) - The resurgent Buffalo Sabres will aim for their ninth victory in 12 games when they host the Florida Panthers in Saturday's battle at First Niagara Center.

Not much was expected of the rebuilding Sabres this season and Ted Nolan's team seemed to confirm that suspicion by going 3-13-2 to begin 2014-15. However, Buffalo has managed to gain steam over the past month and enters Saturday with an 8-3-0 mark in its last 11 trips to the ice.

Despite the surge, the Sabres are still sitting last in the Atlantic Division, but they have a chance to gain ground on one of their divisional foes this evening. Florida is currently seven points ahead of Buffalo in the Atlantic standings.

The Sabres have won two in a row and they hope to match their longest winning streak of the season tonight. However, the Panthers have fared well in recent meetings in this series, winning four straight and posting a 7-1-1 record over the past nine encounters with Buffalo.

Florida also has claimed wins in its last four trips to Western New York.

Buffalo is coming off Thursday's close win over Calgary, as the Sabres moved to 2-0 on a four-game homestand with a 4-3 decision against the Flames. Prior to Thursday's win, the Sabres picked up a 1-0 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

Matt Moulson scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the third period, to help Buffalo edge the Flames, who outshot the Sabres by a wide margin (45-19) in a losing effort.

Moulson scored the first and last goals of the game, and his marker that redirected off his skate with 7:29 left proved to be the winner for the Sabres.

Tyler Ennis collected three assists, including one on both of Moulson's goals. Leading All-Star vote-getter Zemgus Girgensons tallied a goal and an assist and Marcus Foligno also lit the lamp for Buffalo. Jhonas Enroth earned the win with 42 saves.

"I had a lot of shots against me, and I felt pretty good all game," said Enroth.

Enroth has earned the win in seven of Buffalo's last eight victories and he expects to be back in net tonight. The Swedish netminder is 1-1-1 with a .97 goals against average in three career games against Florida.

The Panthers are coming off a victory after downing the Detroit Red Wings in a shootout on Friday. Roberto Luongo stopped 29 shots in regulation and both Detroit chances in the shootout to lift Florida to the 3-2 road win.

Tomas Fleischmann and Jonathan Huberdeau tallied for the Panthers, while Vincent Trocheck was credited with the deciding strike in the game's final segment.

"These two points are huge," Huberdeau said. "We're pretty happy with the way we're playing right now."

Florida is 3-1-1 over its last five outings and owns a 6-4-5 record as the visiting team. The Panthers cap a three-game road trip tonight before hosting the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

The Panthers could get Scottie Upshall back in the lineup tonight. The forward has missed the last eight games due to an ankle injury, but has been practicing and is questionable for Saturday. Upshall, who has three goals and four assists in 17 games this season, hasn't played since Nov. 24.