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Friday, March 25th (All times eastern)

Florida Panthers (29-35-10) at Buffalo Sabres (36-28-9), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will attempt to aid their playoff hopes with a second straight win when they host the sliding Florida Panthers in tonight's clash at HSBC Arena.

With 81 points, the Sabres are holding onto the eighth and final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference. However, Buffalo is just three points ahead of Carolina and Toronto, which are tied for the ninth seed.

Buffalo has recorded a point in three straight games (2-0-1) and Lindy Ruff's club has compiled a 9-3-3 mark over its last 15 outings.

Ryan Miller was spectacular in net in Buffalo's most recent game, leading his club to a 2-0 victory Tuesday in Montreal. Last year's Vezina Trophy winner stopped 31 shots to record his fourth shutout of the season and 21st of his career.

"We battled for it," said Miller. "We were blocking them in lanes and forcing them outside a lot. It was a defensive effort -- one of our strongest I can remember."

Nathan Gerbe scored both Buffalo goals, including an empty-netter in the final minute after hustling for two poke checks near the blue line.

The Sabres have played the last four games without Jochen Hecht (upper body) but the German forward is questionable for tonight. Buffalo defenseman Steve Montador has sat out the last two games with a lower-body injury, but he is expected to play this evening.

Buffalo is 16-16-4 as the host this year and is playing the first of two straight in western New York. The Sabres are also hosting New Jersey on Saturday.

The Sabres have lost two of three against Florida this year, but Buffalo recorded an overtime win when the clubs last met on Feb. 10 in Sunrise. Buffalo has claimed three of five and seven out of 10 overall in this series.

Florida has won two of its last three in Buffalo, but has also dropped four out of six at HSBC Arena.

Meanwhile, with just 68 points, the 14th-seeded Panthers have been reduced to a spoiler role.

Florida has lost three in a row (0-2-1) and was shut out Wednesday in Chicago. Corey Crawford posted his fourth shutout of the season, stopping 23 shots in the Blackhawks' 4-0 victory at the United Center.

Tomas Vokoun surrendered all four goals on 31 shots for the Panthers, who have also lost four of their last five games.

Florida trailed by a 1-0 score heading into the third period on Wednesday before the Blackhawks exploded for three goals in the final 20 minutes.

"You can tell we kind of ran out of gas in the third period," Panthers forward Jack Skille said. "The 'Hawks took over. That's why they're a good team."

Florida leading scorer Stephen Weiss missed Wednesday's game with a leg injury and is questionable for tonight's test. Weiss is tied with David Booth for the team lead with 21 goals and is tops on the club with 49 points.

The Panthers have lost four straight on the road and are off to an 0-2-0 start on a five-game trek. Florida has a dismal 14-20-2 record as the visiting club this year.

03/25 10:47:05 ET


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