The Florida Panthers did not do themselves plenty of favors when it came to the Atlantic Division standings on Sunday although they did pick up a point in a tough 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in a shootout.
With the shootout loss, the Panthers’ lead in the Atlantic was cut to four points as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the host Vancouver Canucks.
Earlier in the day, the Buffalo Sabres stopped the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 at the NHL Heritage Classic played outside at Tim Hortons Stadium in Hamilton, Ont., which helped when it came to Florida’s lead over the Leafs.
Vinnie Hinostroza, who played for the Panthers last season, scored twice in the freezing cold and assisted on another goal.
Craig Anderson, who still makes his home in Parkland after playing three seasons for the Panthers, made 32 saves to slow down the high-flying Leafs.
It was the second win for Buffalo over the Leafs this month.
The Panthers and Leafs have not played each other and face off for the first of three regular season meetings later this month.
But after getting a point in Los Angeles and the Leafs losing, Florida now has an seven-point lead on Toronto — really helping the Panthers’ chances at hosting a first-round playoff series.
Of course, the Panthers still leading the Atlantic and certainly are trying to hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning. Winning the division would ensure home ice for the first and second rounds and avoid a first-round meeting with the Lightning or the Leafs.
AROUND THE NHL
Speaking of the Heritage Classic, per Sportsnet, it looks like Edmonton will host the game in 2023-24. You can start bundling up now.
Carolina will play host tot he Washington Capitals at the N.C. State football stadium across from the Hurricanes’ arena next season.
We’re still waiting for that Panthers-Lightning tilt at Marlins Park.
It could work.
— Sportsnet’s Elliotte Fridman offered up some new NHL trade rumors, saying San Jose’s Tomas Hertl and Dallas’ John Klingberg appear to be off the board and out of play.
— Friedman added with Colorado Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog having knee surgery Monday and Sam Girard missing at least a month, it could be a big player come the Deadline on March 21.
— Arizona Coyotes Jakob Chychrun is one of the top trade targets, but he left Saturday’s game with Boston with a lower body injury and returned to Arizona for an MRI.
— The Minnesota Wild retired its first number Sunday night as Mikko Koivu’s No. 9 went up in the Xcel Energy Center’s rafters.
— Is the price going up for Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux?
— The Panthers are also battling Carolina for the top spot in the Eastern Conference — and the Pittsburgh Penguins did the Cats a solid on Sunday.
— Why are the New York Islanders playing better lately?
— Teams are likely coming back around to take a peek at Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot as their ask price may be going up.