The few players still inside the Panthers’ locker room following Tuesday’s game weren’t in the mood to talk much.
The 3-2 loss to the Bruins was a devastating one as Florida needed a victory to keep its playoff hopes alive.
With a win, Florida would have trailed the Bruins by two points with a five-game homestand starting Thursday to end the regular season.
With a win, Florida had a chance.
Instead, the ones who spoke Tuesday night were trying to say all the right things although they knew the road to the postseason is now pretty much blocked off to them.
“The odds are against us but we are going to regroup, keep fighting,” goalie Roberto Luongo said.
“Obviously this was a tough loss. We just have to get on the plane, go home and come back ready for the next one.”
Said captain Willie Mitchell: “It’s tough right now to talk about bouncing back or anything like that. We just need wins now.”
Florida likely needs to win its final five games starting with Carolina on Thursday then Tampa Bay and Montreal this weekend.
Boston returns to Sunrise on April 9, and the regular-season finale is April 11 against New Jersey.
If the Panthers were to get all 10 available points, they would have 95 points — which is a huge jump from last year’s 65.
For the playoffs, however, Boston and Ottawa would have to finish with 94 points or fewer for the Panthers to make it under that scenario. To accomplish that, the Bruins must get only three points in their final five games and Ottawa must get only five with six games left.
It sure doesn’t seem possible.
“Our team has come a long way, and we’re real happy with it,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “Our young guys are getting some great experience. We’re not out of it yet, so we’re going to keep working and battling hard. Until somebody says, ‘You can’t make the playoffs,’ then we’re still there.”
The Panthers came to terms with 2012 first-round pick Mike Matheson on Wednesday.
The former Boston College captain will report to Florida’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio, where he joins former Minnesota center Kyle Rau, who signed last weekend.
Matheson, a defenseman, helped the Eagles to three consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament as he played in 112 games and scored 14 goals with 57 assists. He has been ranked Florida’s top prospect by the Hockey News.
The 21-year-old will try and help the surging Rampage win a championship. Going into Wednesday, San Antonio had won a franchise-record eight games in a row as well as set a record for wins in March (11).
San Antonio’s 90 points led the Western Conference and were third-most in the entire league.
Thursday: Panthers vs. Hurricanes
When, where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.
TV, radio: FSFL; WSBR 740 AM
Series: Carolina leads 52-45-11
Noteworthy: After losing all three to Carolina last year, the Panthers have won the first two this season. The Hurricanes have lost two straight and six of eight.