|FLA||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
|VAN||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||5|
Powered by the longest road winning streak in franchise history, the Florida Panthers are climbing up the Eastern Conference standings. To extend that run, however, they must win in a city where they haven't done so since their inaugural season.
Florida looks to win its sixth straight road game on Sunday night when it visits the Vancouver Canucks, who haven't lost at home to the Panthers in more than 14 years.
Florida (14-12-3) got off to a slow start in 2008-09, and was tied for last in the league on Nov. 21. Since then, the Panthers have gone 7-1-2, earning 16 of a possible 20 points to move up to ninth in the East.
"It's a true team effort over the last few weeks to keep this thing going and get ourselves out of the hole we dug a little earlier in the season," said the Panthers' Stephen Weiss after Friday's 3-2 shootout win at Calgary.
Florida's road play has been the biggest reason for its latest turnaround. The Panthers started the season 3-8-1 away from Florida, but have won five straight road games, including the first three of this five-game trip.
But Florida has had no luck in Vancouver (16-11-3). The Panthers haven't won there since a 2-1 victory at Pacific Coliseum on March 7, 1994 - Florida's first season in the NHL. The Canucks moved into GM Place the next season, and the Panthers have gone 0-3-1 with five ties there.
In their last meeting on Feb 1, Florida defeated the Canucks 4-3 in a shootout at home to end a seven-game winless skid against Vancouver dating to Oct. 20, 1999.
Florida's offense could receive a lift on Sunday as Cory Stillman, who has five goals and four assists in 13 games, may return after being out since Nov. 14 with a concussion.
Weiss, though, has been providing a surprising spark to the offense lately, tallying two goals in his last three games after scoring three in the first 22.
He scored the lone shootout goal against the Flames, and also had the deciding goals in a 2-0 win in Edmonton on Thursday and a 4-3 victory in Ottawa on Monday.
"I don't care if I'm getting the winners," Weiss said. "It doesn't matter who, as long as we're winning games."
On Friday, Tomas Vokoun made 35 saves for the Panthers in his first start since Nov. 26 when he was pulled during the first intermission after allowing two goals on 12 shots in a loss to New Jersey.
Backup Craig Anderson is 5-1-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average and two shutouts since Nov. 30, and is expected in net on Sunday despite going 0-3-1 with a 3.17 GAA in four career starts against the Canucks.
Vancouver opens a four-game homestand on Sunday after wrapping up a season-high seven-game road trip with a 3-0 loss at Edmonton on Saturday.
"I really don't have one positive thing to say about this game," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "We got outplayed. We got out-everythinged in all areas."
Vancouver went 2-4-1 on the trip, allowing Calgary to move into a first-place tie atop the Northwest Division.
With Roberto Luongo (groin) still out, Curtis Sanford made 26 saves versus the Oilers, falling to 1-3-0 with a 3.44 GAA in his last five starts.
Rookie Cory Schneider, who is 1-2-1 with a 2.80 GAA since being called up from the minors, could start in this game.
This will be the Canucks' first home game since a 4-3 loss to Calgary on Nov. 27. Vancouver is 5-1-1 at GM Place since Nov. 4.
|Dec 14 '08||FLA 3 at VAN 5||K. Wellwood|