When asked why he would go through the endless hours of rehabilitation to continue playing hockey at 37, Ed Jovanovski sat back in his locker stall and sighed.

If there was any question whether Jovanovski loves playing this game, it quickly disappears.

“I take every day as a win,” Jovanovski said Tuesday night, not long after he had his biggest moment since returning to the Panthers earlier this month.

“I’m very fortunate.’’

Jovanovski was the biggest story to come out of Florida’s 4-3 victory over the Sabres as the Panthers’ captain scored their third goal of the first period and assisted on the first.

The goal was Jovanovski’s first since the end of the 2012 season. He played six games last season, one in which the pain in his hip got so bad he says he couldn’t bend over to tie his shoes.

After traveling to Europe to try to find relief through Platelet Rich Plasma therapy, Jovanovski returned to the Panthers for a game on March 16. He lasted just two periods. For him to have any chance to continue playing, he needed to take the extreme measure of surgery for undergoing hip resurfacing. It’s possible Jovanovski will eventually need a hip replacement.

“I had no options,’’ he said during training camp.

It’s believed no professional athlete has ever returned from that surgery to such a high level of competition, but Jovanovski worked throughout the summer and early part of this season to come back.

Although many doubted he would ever come back — or at least return at the level it takes to play his position in the NHL — he played his first game of the season on Jan. 4 and had a plus-3 rating against Nashville.