the florida panthers look to continue their surge toward a playoff position in the eastern conference when they host the red-hot pittsburgh penguins on saturday. the panthers have won eight of their last 11 games after rallying for a 3-2 victory over washington on thursday that followed an emotional pregame ceremony to honor those lost in the school shooting in nearby parkland, fla.

"it's tough to separate the hockey sometimes," florida coach bob boughner told reporters after the win. "it doesn't seem important sometimes when things like this go on, but we realize we have a job to do and we're in a playoff run and we can't afford to give away two points. real proud of them." the panthers sit five points out of the second wild-card spot in the east while pittsburgh moved into first place in the metropolitan division on friday after getting two goals from phil kessel in a 6-1 victory at carolina. the penguins have scored 29 goals during their season-high six-game winning streak, have earned at least one point in eight straight (7-0-1), are 11-1-1 in their last 12 and added another offensive weapon in a trade on friday. pittsburgh acquired center derick brassard from ottawa in a three-team deal that makes the team very strong down the middle as it gears up for the playoffs.

tv: 7 p.m. et, at&t sportsnet pittsburgh, fs florida

about the penguins (36-22-4): brassard, who recorded 18 goals and 38 points in 58 games with the senators this season, fits in as the third-line center behind evgeni malkin (team-best 73 points) and captain sidney crosby (67). "he's a great player, if you look at his skill set and everything he brings to a team," defenseman kris letang told the pittsburgh post-gazette of brassard. "he's also a clutch performer in the playoffs." malkin has collected four goals and six assists during his five-game point streak while letang has registered two and five on his five-game run.

about the panthers (27-25-6): roberto luongo, who lives in parkland, made a pregame speech to the crowd on thursday and followed up by making 33 saves as he improved to 2-1-0 since returning from injured reserve. vincent trocheck scored the winning goal on the power play with 20 seconds left in the third period to increase his team-leading total to 23 and remained tied with jonathan huberdeau for second on the team with 54 points. all-star aleksander barkov tops florida with 55 points after recording two goals and six assists over his last six contests.


1. the penguins have won five straight meetings, including a pair in october, and are 8-0-1 over their last nine against the panthers.

2. florida c frank vatrano, who was acquired from boston for a third-round draft pick on thursday, is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

3. pittsburgh dealt d ian cole to ottawa while rw ryan reaves was sent to vegas in friday's three-team trade.

prediction: panthers 4, penguins 3