The last time the Panthers visited Ottawa they were a zombie team mired in a seven-game losing streak that had just gotten their coach fired.

That was the careful-what-you-wish for situation that Peter Horachek walked into on Nov. 9 for his long-awaited first game as a head coach in the NHL.

"You could feel that they weren't a very confident team. They didn't believe at that point, so that was a tough situation," Horachek said Wednesday.

The Panthers return to the Canadian capital on Thursday riding their first four-game winning streak since 2012. That they have climbed to the fringe of playoff contention by winning six of the past seven is a testament to the dramatic transformation since losing Horachek's debut 3-2.

The losing streak would reach nine before gaining traction that has them 10-8-1 since the coaching change. Impressive as that is, it has not yet gotten the interim tag removed from Horachek's title.