The Florida Panthers can officially clinch a spot in the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs with a win against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon.
Florida would also get a spot with an Islanders loss.
The Panthers will try and do so with three players who were recently part of the Sabres — a team which has not made the postseason since 2011.
While Brandon Montour and Sam Reinhart made their return to Key Bank Center last month, defenseman Robert Hagg will be back in Buffalo for the first time since being traded to the Panthers before the deadline two weeks ago.
Florida will be looking for not only a three-game season sweep of the Sabres on Sunday but of this two-game roadtrip.
On Saturday, the Panthers rallied from a 6-2 third-period deficit to beat the host Devils 7-6 in overtime.
Florida was kept afloat by scoring from its defensemen as its first four goals came from d-men — although Hagg was not one of them.
Montour, who was acquired from Buffalo at last year’s deadline and later signed a three-year contract extension, pulled the Panthers within three in the third period.
“They have been helping us all year,’’ Sasha Barkov said of Florida’s defensemen. “Obviously, getting goals from them is huge for us.”
Florida is expected to start Spencer Knight in the back-to-back; he was pressed into service as he replaced Sergei Bobrovsky to start the third on Saturday.
Knight got the win by stopping the five shots faced — including one in overtime which allowed defenseman Gus Forsling to win in.
The Panthers won’t find a team ready to roll over in Buffalo.
The Sabres have at least a point in their past eight games (5-0-3), their best run of points in almost four years.
Buffalo is also 4-0-2 at home in its past six, although one of those wins came at the Tiger-Cats football stadium in Hamilton for the Heritage Classic.
UP NEXT FOR THE FLORIDA PANTHERS
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT BUFFALO SABRES
- When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
- Where: Key Bank Center, Buffalo
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- Draft Kings odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-280); Puck line (-1.5, -105); Over/Under 7 (+100/-120)
- 2021 regular season series: Did not play
- Season Series — Florida leads 2-0: @Florida 7, Sabres 4 (Dec. 2); Florida 6, @Buffalo 1(March 7)
- All-time regular season series: Buffalo leads 52-44-5, 4 ties
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Anthony Duclair
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 8 Sam Bennett // 28 Claude Giroux
17 Mason Marchment // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart
94 Ryan Lomberg // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 19 Joe Thornton
42 Gus Forsling // 52 MacKenzie Weegar
8 Ben Chiarot // 7 Radko Gudas
18 Robert Hagg // 62 Brandon Montour
30 Spencer Knight
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
Scratched: Petteri Lindbohm, Lucas Carlsson, Maxim Mamin
Injured: Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Jonas Johansson (IR), Aaron Ekblad (LTIR), Noel Acciari (UBI), Patric Hornqvist (UBI)
PROJECTED BUFFALO SABRES LINEUP
53 Jeff Skinner // 72 Tage Thompson // 89 Alex Tuch
19 Peyton Krebs // 24 Dylan Cozens // 29 Vinnie Hinostroza
74 Rasmus Asplund // 37 Casey Mittelstadt // 71 Victor Olofsson
28 Zemgus Girgensons // 20 Cody Eakin // 21 Kyle Okposo
26 Rasmus Dahlin // 10 Henri Jokiharju
23 Mattias Samuelsson // 45 Casey Fitzgerald
78 Jacob Bryson // 13 Mark Pysyk
31 Dustin Tokarski
41 Craig Anderson
Buffalo Sabres lines courtesy DailyFaceoff.com