The Panthers looked fabulous at 40 on Monday night, but their future beyond this week is still dubious.
Defenseman Alex Petrovic scored the go-ahead goal with 7:58 left in the third period as the Panthers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 at the BB&T Center. It was just Petrovic’s second goal of the season.
The victory gave Florida 40 wins for the season, marking the fifth time in franchise history that milestone was reached. The win also gave the Panthers 88 points, five behind the idle New Jersey Devils in the battle for the last wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Florida (40-30-8) has just four games left in the regular season. New Jersey has three games remaining.
Rookie defenseman MacKenzie Weegar and veteran winger Evgenii Dadonov also scored for Florida, and Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo made 26 saves for the win.
Florida’s defensemen had a lot to do with the win — on both sides of the puck. First of all, the Panthers held the Hurricanes to just one shot on goal for the final eight-plus minutes. Secondly, since the All-Star break, the Panthers lead the NHL in points by defensemen.