Panthers (39-29-8 86P) at Bruins (48-17-11 107P)
- WHEN: 1:00 p.m. ET
- WHERE: TD Garden – Boston, MA
- ON THE TUBE: FOX Sports Florida, NESN, Sportsnet
- ON THE DIAL: 560 WQAM (D/B), 640 WMEN (PB), 1370 WAXE (TC), Thunder 100.3 (Keys)
- SOCIALS: #FlaPanthers, #NHLBruins, #BOSvsFLA, @LitterBoxCats, LBC FaceBook
- ENEMY INTEL: Stanley Cup of Chowder
- FLA IN SEASON SERIES: Game 2 of 4 (1-0-0)
- ALL-TIME vs BOS: 36W-43L-6T 4OTL 4SOL 228GF 267GA
- ALL-TIME at BOS: 19W-22L-4T 2OTL 0SOL 104GF 134GA
- LAST MEETING: @ FLA 3, BOS 0 – (Recap) – 3/15/2018
- NEXT MEETING: April 5, 2018
- PROJECTED STARTERS: Luongo (15-11-2 .926/2.60 3SO) vs Rask (33-11-5 .918/2.31 3SO)
- PLAYER STATS: Florida / Boston
Scouting Report (Courtesy of Stats LLC)
Despite three losses in their last five games, the Florida Panthers still have a chance to grab the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
And, thanks to a January postponement, much of what happens to the Panthers depends on how they do with three of their last six games against the first-place Boston Bruins.
Florida, 1-1-1 on its current four-game trip, ends that journey with a matinee in Boston Saturday.
The Panthers host the Bruins April 5 and then return to TD Garden for the April 8 makeup.
They also have a home game against the Nashville Predators, so it’s hard to say the schedule is favorable. The other games, though, are at home against the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres, both in the draft lottery.
Florida, which has lost two in a row for the first time since mid-February, trails the New Jersey Devils by three points but has a game in hand.
The Panthers lost 3-2 in Ottawa on a penalty shot goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau with 12.9 seconds left in overtime Thursday night, leaving a vital point on the table.
”At this time of year, you want the two points,” said Florida goaltender James Reimer, who yielded the goal. “Two points are big, but any points are good. I’m disappointed we lost that one in OT, but the positives are that we got a point. We’re going to keep rolling, keep winning games and see where it stands at the end of the year.”
The penalty shot was awarded under what could be called controversial circumstances — defenseman Mike Matheson diving at Pageau.
”I watched it a few times,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. It’s an iffy, iffy call. It could have gone either way. I just think this time of year, the fight we’re in, it would have been nice to see it be called just a penalty with 13 seconds to go in the game. It’s a major decision that ended up costing us a point. Hopefully it’s not a costly point at the end of the day.”
Back on March 15, Reimer made 46 saves and the Panthers blanked the Bruins 3-0 after Boston swept the five-games between the teams last season.
The Bruins, meanwhile, continue to march impressively toward the playoffs despite their training room looking like a MASH unit.
They might get rookie Jake DeBrusk back Saturday, while top two defensemen Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy will travel with the team and could play Sunday at Philadelphia. Rick Nash and Sean Kuraly are also hurt.
The Bruins, 11-2-3 in their last 16 games despite all the injuries, won their third straight game this season against the Tampa Bay Lightning, moving into first place in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
Friday night, however, the Lightning ended a three-game losing streak with a 7-3 win over the Rangers in New York.
The Bruins have two games in hand and visit Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
”For us, I think we haven’t talked about the standings much this year, and we won’t going forward,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the 4-2 win over the Lightning. “When the 82 games are over, we’ll see where we are, who we got, and we’ll go from there. And, I’m not trying to be disrespectful to that either, because it is an accomplishment, but we still have games to go, so we’ll enjoy it for a day or however long we’re there, and hopefully longer.”
Both teams have debuted Hobey Baker finalists in recent games, the Bruins with Harvard’s Ryan Donato and the Panthers Henrik Borgstrom.
Goalies Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin will split the two weekend games. Rask is 20-3-1 with a 1.48 goals against average and .950 save percentage against Florida while Khudobin is 3-2 in five games.
Roberto Luongo is 15-16-5 with a 2.49 goals against and .925 against Boston, but that doesn’t count his painful Game 7 loss to the Bruins for Vancouver in the 2011 Stanley Cup final. Reimer is 8-8-3 with a 2.34 average and .933 percentage against Boston.
The Bruins signed Jordan Szwarz to a one-year contract extension and then sent Szwarz and Tommy Cross back to Providence Friday.
- OTTAWA (27-39-11 65P) at DETROIT (29-38-11 69P) 2 p.m.
- Winnipeg (47-20-10 104P) at TORONTO (47-24-7 101P) 7 p.m.
- MONTREAL (28-37-12 68P) at Pittsburgh (44-28-6 94P) 7 p.m. NHL Network
- BUFFALO (24-41-12 60P) at Nashville (50-16-11 111P) 8 p.m.
Idle: TBL (108P)
Panthers, SoFla Media & Loyal Opposition on the Tweets