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Another Playoff Race: Charlotte Checkers Clinch Spot

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Charlotte checkers
Charlotte Checkers captain Zac Dalpe scores a goal against the Springfield Thunderbirds earlier this month. // Photo courtesy @CheckersHockey

As the Florida Panthers are fighting for a playoff spot in the NHL playoffs, the Charlotte Checkers clinched a postseason berth on Saturday night.

Even though the Checkers lost to the Hershey Bears on Saturday, they earned a spot when the Bridgeport Islanders lost to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Charlotte is currently fourth in the Atlantic Division with three games remaining.

Should the team finish third or fourth in the Atlantic Division, the team would play the entire First Round series at home in Charlotte.

The Panthers, meanwhile, continue to hold the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining.

Florida has games against Toronto and Carolina while the Penguins and Islanders have a seemingly easier finish.

We’ll see.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW

The Panthers were looking every bit the part of a desperate team in the third period on Saturday night as it looked more and more like their game against the Capitals was headed to overtime.

Then, as we have seen all season, Matthew Tkachuk came through with perhaps his biggest goal of the season.

It was his 40th of the season as he joined Carter Verhaeghe and Pavel Bure as the only members of Florida’s Club 40. He was just happy about the win — Florida’s sixth straight.

  • It has been just over a week since Keith Tkachuk called the Panthers a ‘soft team’ that was ‘getting everything it deserved.’ Is it a coincidence that the Panthers have looked a lot tougher — and have not lost since? We spoke to a couple of folks about it (including Matthew, Radko Gudas and Paul Maurice).
  • How good has Alex Lyon been for the Panthers? As we said last week, he has saved Florida’s season. He’ll probably be back in net on Monday as well.
  • The boys from Panther Pourri are back as they discuss the team coming back from the dead. Check out the podcast RIGHT HERE
  • Video from Maurice, Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart following the win against the Capitals is up on the FHN YouTube Channel.
  • You can click the embedded videos below or click RIGHT HERE to see everything all in one place. If you hit subscribe (it’s free), you will know when new content comes up.

NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW

The Florida Panthers went into Saturday night’s game knowing how the Pittsburgh Penguins did as they eased their way to a win in Detroit in a nationally televised matinee.

But Florida was not keeping track of the Islanders. They really did not need to.

New York throttled the Philadelphia Flyers as they lost their sixth straight game.

  • The Penguins gave the Detroit Red Wings a lesson in what desperate hockey looks like.
  • When Gabriel Landeskog makes his return to the Colorado Avalanche, it will be in the playoffs.
  • The Boston Bruins tie an NHL record for most wins in a single season with 62.
  • The Montreal Canadiens got run in Toronto but at least their draft odds improved, right?
  • The Vegas Golden Knights lost Zach Whitecloud to an injury in their shootout loss to Dallas.

PANTHERS ON DECK

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

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