Panthers become 1st NHL team to clinch playoff spot

Bill Wippert / National Hockey League / Getty

The Florida Panthers are heading to the postseason.

They became the first team to clinch a playoff berth this season after they defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 on Sunday afternoon. The win also marked the club's 48th victory of the year, establishing a new franchise record.

This will be Florida's third straight postseason appearance - the longest streak in franchise history.

"Guys have been working hard all year. To clinch, obviously, it's fun," forward Jonathan Huberdeau said postgame, according to team reporter Jameson Olive. "The rest of the season is really important as well. We've got to play well. We want to finish first and get home-ice advantage."

Huberdeau recorded his 97th point of the season in the contest, which propelled him past Aleksander Barkov's single-season franchise points record from 2018-19.

"He deserves it the way he's been playing. It couldn't happen to a better guy," Barkov said of Huberdeau. "We still have a lot of games left, so it's going to be fun to see where he ends up. I'm lucky to be his teammate."

The Panthers sit first place in the Atlantic Division with a 48-15-6 record, the second-best overall mark in the league.

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Panthers become 1st NHL team to clinch playoff spot
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