The Florida Panthers are back on the road for their final extended roadtrip of the season.
It will likely determine how long this season actually lasts.
If Florida gets back to its winning ways in these four games — three of which are in Canada — they will have a chance to make some noise in its final five games of the season.
A couple of losses, perhaps even one, may put the dagger in their playoff hopes.
With the Pittsburgh Penguins beating the Capitals on Saturday night a few hours after Florida lost its third consecutive game in regulation, the Panthers find themselves three points out of the playoffs.
Technically, with nine games left, Monday’s game against the host Ottawa Senators is not a ‘must-win’ game for the Panthers.
But boy, they better not lose.
“We know what we are up against,’’ Ryan Lomberg said following Florida’s 4-3 loss to the Rangers on Saturday night.
“The ball is in our court. We put ourselves in this position to make a run at it. It is on us and I am looking forward to doing it with these guys. We are all pros, we’re all big boys. It doesn’t matter where we are. We know the task at hand and we’re looking forward to a good road trip.’’
The disappointment in the Florida room following Saturday’s loss was noticeable.
Players who did stick around had their heads down and tried their best not to make eye contact with the media members who came in for the postgame comments.
Others were spotted sitting with their heads down in the team weight room.
Perhaps a travel day and a nice dinner in the Canadian capital will raise their spirits a bit.
A win in Ottawa before a huge matchup in Toronto on Wednesday night would do wonders for this team.
The Panthers are not out of this, not yet. Things may not look good at the moment, but with games against Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Columbus upcoming, the Panthers can turn things around in a hurry.
Seeing, of course, will be believing.
The Panthers, remember, have not won in Toronto since Mark Pysyk had his hat trick there back in 2020.
“You hate losing, especially at this time of the year and the situation we are in,” Sasha Barkov said.
“Right now, for us, every game is a big game and we have to treat them like playoff games and try to win all of them. But one game, one shift at a time is all we can do. I think everyone wants to play everyone like this. Of course, it would be nice to have a 30-point lead. But we’re not in that situation. We just have to battle as hard as we can. I know we have it in this room. Everyone knows it, we just need to do it.’’
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT OTTAWA SENATORS
- When: Monday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Canadian Tire Center, Ottawa
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Season Series (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 5, Senators 3 (Oct. 29)
- Last season: Florida won 3-1
- All-time regular season series: Ottawa leads 56-43-5, 3 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Florida at Toronto, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.