Instead of ending their road trip with an exclamation point, the Florida Panthers put a rather large question mark to the final chapter in the latest and arguably most difficult road trip of many such stretches already this season.
The National Hockey League hasn't done the 'Cats any favors in terms of scheduling prior to January over the past several seasons, and the current campaign is no exception.
But to Florida's credit, the squad has battled in enemy territory and put up some impressive point totals away from the BankAtlantic Center, but capping their most recent travels with a dud in the Big Apple against the Rangers was not the way they wanted to return to Sunrise.
And so it's back to the Redvolution and three games in front of their own fans for a change during the upcoming week.
It looks promising on paper, but that's why they play the games.
Tuesday, Dec. 13 vs. New Jersey:
With the last time these two clubs met marked by one of the biggest comebacks in franchise history, the Panthers (16-9-5, 37 pts.) once again host Head Coach Peter DeBoer's bladers in what should be another close encounter.
While the Devils have been struggling of late, they should be extremely motivated after blowing a 3-0 lead to Florida the last time they visited South Florida just a few weeks ago.
But so should Kevin Dineen's skaters be ready to play after being drubbed 6-1 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night. Let's see how the 'Cats respond to one of their few bad games of the season in New York.
Friday, Dec. 16 vs. Calgary
Former Panthers' fan favorite Olli Jokinen returns to Sunrise still boasting plenty of offensive firepower as he and former teammate Stephen Weiss lock horns on the ice.
Jokinen has been a sparkplug for the Flames with eight goals and 13 assists as of Sunday night's statistics.
Calgary always gives Florida a tough game at the BankAtlantic Center, and this should be no different. A non-conference showdown but an important one nonetheless.
Sunday, Dec. 18 vs. Carolina
A key divisional showdown and a chance for the Panthers to further distance themselves from their rivals from North Carolina.
A "golden opportunity" week in terms of Florida having the chance to redeem itself from a trip that ended with a regulation rout on the heels of an overttime loss in Buffalo.
The Panthers hope to rekindle the spark they had after they left Boston with a stunning shutout victory over the Stanley Cup champions.