Claude Giroux continued his passing artistry Sunday for his new team, the Florida Panthers.
The former Flyers captain had two more assists as the Panthers defeated the host Buffalo Sabres, 5-3, and became the first team to clinch a Stanley Cup playoff berth.
“Lots of hockey left, but let’s enjoy the moment,” Florida coach Andrew Brunette told reporters after the Panthers raised their record to 48-15-6. “They deserve every ounce of credit they are getting.”
Giroux, 34, has been an important contributor since joining the Panthers last month, but far from the main piece for Florida, which leads the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division with 102 points. The Panthers set a franchise record with their 48th win Sunday.
Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and set a single-season Florida record with 97th point (24 goals, 73 assists), and Anthony Duclair scored his 27th and 28th goals.
The Panthers are 6-1 since Giroux joined them, and he has seven points — all assists — and a plus-5 rating in those seven games. Overall, he has 49 points (18-31) in 64 games with the Flyers and Florida this season.
Giroux is on a powerhouse Florida team that has six players with more than 20 goals. The Flyers have one such player, Cam Atkinson (23).
On Sunday night against the New York Rangers, Tippett scored his first goal in eight games with the Flyers.