Florida Panthers

How can the Panthers make the playoffs? These are the ways Florida can earn a berth

Florida Panthers Colton Sceviour (7) celebrates the winning goal in the third period as they play the Nashville Predators on Sunrise, Florida, April 3, 2018.
Florida Panthers Colton Sceviour (7) celebrates the winning goal in the third period as they play the Nashville Predators on Sunrise, Florida, April 3, 2018. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The Nashville Predators were shaking their heads in disbelief.

Florida Panthers coach Bob Boughner pumped his right fist.

And several Panthers players let out a collective roar.

Those were among the reactions and emotions on Tuesday night when a Nashville Predators goal — which would’ve tied the score with 0.3 seconds left — was wiped out due to goalie interference, but only after an incredibly dramatic video review.

The end result was a stunning 2-1 Panthers home win over a Predators team that has the best record in the NHL.

Here are your five takeaways:

▪ 1: Panthers clinging to life: The Panthers, who have 90 points, are competing for the final wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Philadelphia Flyers, who lost on Monday, by four points. The Panthers also trail the New Jersey Devils by five points and the Columbus Blue Jackets by six.

The Panthers have three games left. The three teams they are chasing all have two games left.

Florida needs to win out to have any hope, and it would be helpful if they prevail in regulation or overtime. That’s because wins in regulation or overtime (ROW) is the first tiebreaker if needed to decide playoff berths.

Columbus has 39 ROW, and Florida, New Jersey and Philadelphia have 38 each. If Florida wins its three remaining games without having to go to a shootout, that could be crucial.

But here’s the bottom line: In order to clinch playoff berths — and working under the assumption the Panthers win out — Columbus needs one point, New Jersey needs two points and Philadelphia needs three points.

▪ 2: Take a deep breath: The four aforementioned teams are off Wednesday.

On Thursday, the chase begins anew. At 7 p.m., the Devils host the Toronto Maple Leafs; the Flyers host the Carolina Hurricanes; and the Blue Jackets host the Pittsburgh Penguins.

At 7:30, the Panthers play host to the Boston Bruins.

Panthers fans will surely have at least one eye on their phones for score updates.

▪ 3: Panthers catch a break: Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo tied his season high with 45 saves, even though the last puck he stopped ended up in the back of the net.

OK, we’ll explain.

With the Panthers holding on to a 2-1 lead, Nashville pulled its goalie for an extra attacker during the final three minutes. Panthers center Aleksander Barkov had a chance at an empty-net goal to ice the game, but his shot hit the post.

Given a reprieve, Nashville turned up the pressure. Incredibly, the Predators scored with 0.3 seconds left as Filip Forsberg tapped in a loose puck. But after that dramatic video review, it was ruled that Luongo had stopped the puck before Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson spun him around with his stick.

Goalie interference was the call, and Luongo — naturally — agreed.

“At first, I wasn’t sure what happened,” Luongo said. “But once I saw the replay, the puck was between my legs. [Arvidsson] pitch-forked me. As he spun me around, the puck came loose.

“[The puck] was definitely under me. It was between my legs and covered. Once he spun me around, the puck came out. It’s pretty clear.”

Luongo, who turned 39 one day after beating Nashville in career game No. 999, gave a shout out to the replay crew.

“I was happy they made the right call,” he said. “It would’ve been upsetting if it would’ve been ruled a goal. [During the review], I was trying not to snap if they allowed the goal. That’s what I kept telling myself.”

▪ 4: Panthers catch a break, part 2: Jonathan Huberdeau scored Florida’s first goal as a Jamie McGinn shot bounced off his body and into the net.

“It hit my knee and went in,” Huberdeau said. “It’s part of hockey, I guess. … You have to go to the front of the net. If you are outside, that goal can’t happen.”

▪ 5: Colton comes to the rescue again: One night after making the hit that led to the Panthers’ game-winning goal against the Carolina Hurricanes, winger Colton Sceviour was at it again.

Moved from the bottom six to the top line for the second straight game, Sceviour reversed roles. This time, he was on the receiving end of an Evgenii Dadonov pass, scoring his 10th goal of the season.

This is Sceviour’s eighth year in the NHL, and he’s one goal away from tying his career high. He set his personal best of 11 in 2015-2016 with the Dallas Stars, and the former fourth-round pick is now getting rare top-line playing time.

Sceviour credited Dadonov for his latest goal.

“He did a lot of the work and made a heck of a pass,” Sceviour said. “I just had to put it on pretty much an open net.”

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