Florida Panthers

Panthers’ playoffs hopes still alive

Florida Panthers Jared McCann (90) slides across the ice after scoring the winning goal in the third period as they defeat the Boston Bruins at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, on April 5, 2018.
Florida Panthers Jared McCann (90) slides across the ice after scoring the winning goal in the third period as they defeat the Boston Bruins at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, on April 5, 2018. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Aleksander Barkov scored his 100th NHL goal and Jared McCann got the go-ahead score with 5:37 left in the third period as the Florida Panthers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at the BB&T Center.

Barkov, an All-Star this year, scored his 27th goal of the season. However, it was a rough night for the Panthers as two of the three teams they were chasing for the final wild-card playoff berth in the Eastern Conference clinched postseason berths — the New Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Panthers will be eliminated if they fail to win either of their two remaining regular-season games or if the Philadelphia Flyers pick up at least one point on Saturday against the New York Rangers.

Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, playing his 1,000th NHL game, made 23 saves and earned the win. It was his 18th win of the season and his third in the past four days.

Former Bruins forward Frank Vatrano, acquired by the Panthers just before this year’s trade deadline, also scored for Florida.

Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen scored for Boston, and Brad Marchand, who played his 600th game, was among the Bruins who earned an assist. Tuukka Rask made 31 saves for the Bruins, who have already clinched a playoff berth.

Florida opened the scoring with 7:42 gone in the first period. Evgenii Dadonov threaded a perfect pass to Barkov, who tapped it in. The puck skipped right past Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara on the way to Barkov.

Less than two minutes later, Florida victimized Chara again. Nick Bjugstad and Vatrano stripped Chara of the puck behind the Boston net. Vatrano ended up with the puck, spun around and scored on Rask on his second attempt.

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