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Florida Panthers Get Help in Playoff Chase as Islanders Lose
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SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers skated off the ice following their 2-1 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night perhaps feeling worse than they should have what with the tightness of the playoff race and all.
Florida came into the night in a razor-thin race with the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins knowing every game was a must-win at this point.
And they knew they missed an opportunity when they dropped a point via a John Tavares overtime winner.
It certainly did not help that New York and Pittsburgh had the easiest schedules in the NHL to end the season and they have the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes waiting for them.
What the Panthers did not know is they got a little help as the Islanders dropped their game against the Washington Capitals 5-2.
”They lost?” Brandon Montour responded when the game was brought up following Monday’s loss. ”Someone said that they were winning. I haven’t had my phone but someone said something and I thought they were winning.”
Coming into the night, we all just assumed the Islanders would win that one.
The Capitals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period thanks to a rare off night from Ilya Sorokin and the Islanders could not jump back into it.
New York’s All-Star goalie allowed three goals on 10 shots in the first period and it ultimately ended up being the deciding factor.
Hudson Fasching turned the tide with a goal to make it 3-1 with 5:08 to go but Tom Wilson sunk them with an empty netter less than a minute later.
Casey Cizikas cut Washington’s lead back to two goals off of a feed from Bo Horvat in a 6-on-5 situation but Dylan Strome answered that with another quick empty-netter to put the game to bed with his second goal of the night.
With that, the Panthers are still in control of their own destiny as the playoff race comes down to Game 82.
The Panthers win Thursday and they are the top wild card in the East.
They can simply clinch a playoff spot Tuesday if Pittsburgh somehow loses to the beat up and depleted Blackhawks.
After seeing the Islanders lose Monday, who knows?
”It is what it is,” Montour said. ”We control what we do here. We have to collect as many points as we can in our games and the rest will take care of itself.”
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
After all the attention Brooks Koepka and his traffic cone got a few weeks ago, one would understand if Aaron Ekblad was thrilled to see the LIV golfer lose at the Masters on Sunday.
But Ekblad says he was not only rooting for the Jupiter-based golfer but put money down on him winning it. Must have been a nice text apology.
Just want everyone to know gambling is illegal at Bushwood, sir, and we never slice.
- Alex Lyon was honored by the NHL as the Third Star of the Week. Really could make the argument that was a little on the low side — but he will take it.
- This has not been the easiest of seasons for the Panthers or captain Sasha Barkov, but things are starting to work themselves out.
- The Panthers were desperate in the third period on Saturday night and as we have seen all season, Matthew Tkachuk came through with perhaps his biggest goal of the season.
- 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).
- Video from Maurice, Lyon and Montour following the loss against the Leafs 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
With the Islanders losing on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins now control their postseason fate.
All the Penguins have to do is win their final two games — against the lowly Blackhawks and Blue Jackets — and they are in. The Islanders have one game left and cannot catch Pittsburgh if the Pens go 2-0.
They’re going 2-0.
- The Calgary Flames disappointing season is pretty much done now. A shootout loss to the Predators eliminates them from postseason contention. More changes coming in Calgary.
- Speaking of the Penguins, Dmitry Kulikov is coming off LTIR.
- The Boston Bruins continue reaching new heights.
- The Detroit Red Wings did not give their fans much to cheer about in the home finale. At least they have the Tigers. Oh, wait.
PANTHERS ON DECK
CAROLINA HURRICANES AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 3-0
- This season (Series tied 1-1): Florida 3, Carolina 2 (Nov. 9); Carolina 4, Florida 0 (Dec. 30)
- All-time regular season series: Carolina leads 70-46-10, 11 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: END OF REGULAR SEASON
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Bushwood Country Club and Sudden Valley are two of the finest fictional names of places in cinematic history. Also, what’s new on Spencer Knight??