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game recap

Panthers defeat Bruins to remain in Eastern race

Break third-period tie for win in Luongo's 1,000th NHL game

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers remained in playoff contention with a 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins at BB&T Center on Thursday.


[WATCH: All Bruins vs. Panthers highlights]


The Panthers (42-30-8) would have been eliminated with a loss after the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on Thursday. Florida trails Philadelphia by four points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with two games remaining.

Florida needs to win against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and against Boston on Sunday, and have Philadelphia lose to the New York Rangers in regulation on Saturday.

"I loved our first period," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "We're playing urgent. Obviously we know the situation we're in. That was a playoff kind of atmosphere game."

The Bruins (49-19-12) missed a chance to move into first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, and cannot win the Presidents' Trophy. Boston trails the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic because it has fewer regulation/overtime wins (47-46); each has two games remaining.

Boston has lost three in a row for the first time since losing four straight from Nov. 8-15.

"We don't want to make excuses, but we're in a good spot still," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "We're in the playoffs. We obviously want to go in there playing well, but we still have two games left. We can still play well going in and we'll go from there."

Video: BOS@FLA: Vatrano steals puck, nets backhander

Florida goalie Roberto Luongo made 26 saves becoming the third goalie in NHL history to play 1,000 games (Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy) and the first to win his 1,000th game. 

"I was feeling a little bit sluggish today for some reason but, tell you what, the boys probably played their best game of the year," Luongo said. "I thought they were phenomenal both ends of the ice. I think that was our best game by far. They didn't really have any chances at all. That's the best gift the boys could have given me."

Jared McCann gave Florida a 3-2 lead with 5:37 remaining in the third period when he tipped Mike Matheson's wrist shot from the point.

McCann scored skating with the top line after center Aleksander Barkov left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.

"It's crazy," Luongo said. "Just kind of like it was meant to be, right? The last few months we've been finding ways to win no matter what the situation is. That's another example right there where [one of] our top players goes down and [McCann] steps right up, first shift, boom, scores the game-winner. It says a lot about our club."

Barkov gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead at 7:42 of the first period with his 100th NHL goal. He tipped Evgenii Dadonov's backdoor pass from the bottom of the right face-off circle. Barkov left the game with 6:45 left in the third period after being checked into the boards by Colby Cave.

Frank Vatrano made it 2-0 at 9:34 of the first after a turnover behind the Boston net when he put a backhand past Tuukka Rask.

Ryan Donato made it 2-1 at 15:19 with a power-play goal 14 seconds after Mike Matheson was called for holding. Torey Krug's shot from the point hit Donato in the upper body.

Danton Heinen tied it 2-2 at 2:11 of the second period after a turnover in the Florida zone. He took a centering feed from David Krejci and beat Luongo with a wrist shot to the blocker side.

"We came out strong," Luongo said. "We played for a full 60 minutes. We didn't have any letdowns. Just a complete hockey game against a really good team. I'm proud of the guys, the way they worked hard tonight. Made my job a lot easier."

Video: BOS@FLA: Donato buries rebound in front for PPG


Goal of the game

McCann's goal at 14:23 of the third period.

Video: BOS@FLA: McCann redirects point shot past Rask


Save of the game

Luongo's save against Krug with 15 seconds left in the third period.

Video: BOS@FLA: Luongo stops Krug's shot through traffic


Highlight of the game

Barkov's goal at 7:42 of the first period.

Video: BOS@FLA: Barkov pots 100th goal off Dadonov's feed


They said it

"A tough start. They came to play, that's not a surprise to anybody. They're fighting for their lives and need every point they can get. You have to be ready for that and we weren't." -- Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask


"It's special to see [Luongo] do what he did on the 1,000th game. It was nice to see him get his 1,000th game this year, and the way he got it and went out in style. It meant a lot for the guys. They talked about it in the room before they went out for the game, let's win this one for [Luongo]. I thought they played pretty hard in front of him." -- Panthers coach Bob Boughner


Need to know

Boughner didn't have an update on Barkov after the game but said he didn't like the way Barkov looked skating off the ice. ... Luongo (471-376-86 with 33 ties) played 528 games for Florida, 448 for the Vancouver Canucks, and 24 for the New York Islanders. ... The Panthers tied their record with their 26th home victory (1999-00). ... The Nashville Predators clinched the Presidents' Trophy with a 4-3 win against the Washington Capitals.


What's next

Bruins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday (7 p.m. ET;  CITY, TVAS, NESN, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, MSG-B, NHL.TV)


Video: Luongo plays in 1,000th game as Panthers win, 3-2

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