Panthers-Jets Preview

The Associated Press

The Florida Panthers are one victory away from sweeping four games in Canada.

The Panthers go for a sixth straight victory Friday night when they try to hand the Winnipeg Jets a seventh straight home loss.

Florida (14-17-5) can post its longest win streak since a seven-game run March 2-16, 2008. The Panthers won 4-2 at Ottawa on Thursday after opening this trip with victories in Montreal and Toronto.

The club is 11-8-1 since coach Peter Horachek took over for Kevin Dineen. Horachek's first game was a 3-2 loss at Ottawa on Nov. 9.

''At that point I was just opening the doors,'' Horachek said. ''I was just telling them how I feel the team should play, and I think they wanted to play hard with a new coach. The structure and the confidence wasn't there, and now the guys know they are capable of winning in whatever building they are in."

It may not be too difficult to win in the MTS Centre, where Winnipeg (15-16-5) is 0-3-3 in its last six. The Jets will try to avoid their longest home slide since a 0-10-1 skid Jan. 24-March 16, 2000, in the franchise's first season in Atlanta.

It appears that Jets coach Claude Noel will again turn to struggling Ondrej Pavelec in goal. Pavelec is 0-4-1 with a 4.04 goals-against average in his last five starts while backup Al Montoya has won his last three.

"I think the thing we need to recognize with both goalies is we lean on both of them and primarily on one and we have to recognize with Ondrej Pavelec, for us he is our go-to guy and you have to find a balance on how to play this and how to juggle this stuff," Noel said. "We know the situation, we know what it is and I think at the end of the day, you've got to get your go-to guy going."

Pavelec's winless streak began with a 5-2 loss at Florida on Dec. 5. He made 21 saves after going 5-2-0 with a 2.64 GAA in his previous seven starts versus the Panthers.

It should help that defenseman Zach Bogosian expects to make his first appearance since Nov. 15 after being out with a lower-body injury. Tobias Enstrom will be paired with Bogosian instead of Dustin Byfuglien.

"I'm cleared to play, just coach's decision now," Bogosian said. "It feels good to be back, kind of in the mix of things and getting a few practices under my belt was a big thing."

Horachek may be forced to again start Scott Clemmensen, who made 32 saves Thursday. Tim Thomas has missed the last four games with a groin injury, but is eligible to return Friday.

The Panthers surprisingly scored Thursday's winning goal on the power play, as Tom Gilbert snapped a 2-all tie with 2:32 left. Florida had gone 0 for 18 with the man advantage over its previous seven games and is an NHL-worst 11.0 percent on the power play.

Jonathan Huberdeau returned for the Panthers after missing the first two games of the trip with a foot injury.

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