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On the Road, Again: Florida Panthers Kick Off Big Trip in Columbus

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Florida Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, center, celebrates a goal with his teammate on Friday night in Sunrise. OEL will be back in Vancouver this coming week as the Panthers embark on a five-game road trip. // Photo by Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

The Florida Panthers kick off a five-game road trip in Columbus on Saturday.

They feel pretty good about themselves upon leaving South Florida for a bit.

Florida won the final two games of its three-game homestand to up its record to 16-8-2.

For those counting at home, it’s the second-best record in the Atlantic Divsion.

“The next game is going to be big and we are still building our game,” Sergei Bobrovsky said.

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“We are still coming together and getting things together, so it’s a process and we are in the first part of it. It’s a big road trip and these are two big wins for us.”

The Panthers’ 7-4-2 road record (.615) is ranked 10th best in the league, so they have reason to be confident going into the trip.

Florida has earned points in its past four road contests (3-0-1) and are 5-1-1 away from home since a disappointing loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 5.

“It helps, right?” Oliver Ekman-Larsson said.

”It’s 10 days, five games, so we have to take it one game at a time and try to make the best of it. We have been good on the road so we have to keep playing the way that we have.”

Ekman-Larsson is one of a few Panthers who will return to familiar places on this road trip.

Bobrovsky will first take on the Blue Jackets team he won a pair of Vezina Trophies with on Sunday.

Ekman-Larsson then returns to Vancouver for the first time since the Canucks bought him out this summer on Thursday.

Matthew Tkachuk will return to Calgary for the second time since the blockbuster trade which sent him to Florida and Jonathan Huberdeau to the Flames to close out the road trip a week from Monday.

With some extra motivation from multiple players on this trip and the momentum of a two-game winning streak, the Panthers are riding high heading into the long road trip.

“We all know in the East, we liked our start, but going into the game tonight, we were three points from being out of the playoffs, and we’ve been a pretty good team,” coach Paul Maurice said after Friday’s win over Pittsburgh.

“So we know it’s going to be like this. You are going to get these teams that come in and you’ll look at the standings and say they are a .500 team. They’re not, right? It’s a tough league right now and it’s going to be tough right to the end.”

ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS 

  • When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
  • Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL/Panthers App
  • Last Season: Florida won 2-1
  • This Season (Florida leads 1-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Jackets 4 OT (Nov.6); Ap. 11. At Columbus: Sunday
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Columbus leads 26-18-4
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Tuesday at Seattle, 10 p.m.

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