Ask Panthers forward Peter Mueller about his recent goal-scoring streak — three goals in three games — and you'll get a variation on the standard just-happy-to-be-here answer.

But Mueller probably means it more than most.

"Obviously, it was a little bit of a tough go the first four games," he said Saturday. "It's nice when you get some progress and put up a couple of points here or there. To be honest, I'm happy I'm getting a regular shift each night and to be playing every night."

"My goal just coming into the season was play 48 games," Muller said Saturday. "If I could do that and play hard each and every shift, help my team, I'll be happy."

Usually, it's fourth-liners fighting to stay out of healthy scratch territory, not former first-round picks who are just happy to be here seven years after being drafted.

And Muller was such a hot prospect, the Upper Deck trading card company put him on the boxes of its SPx cards, an upper middle-class release for hockey card collectors. For comparison, Ottawa's Jason Spezza and the Islanders John Tavares graced SPx boxes early in their NHL careers.