The Panthers are probably glad the season’s almost over

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This isn’t meant to pile on the Florida Panthers. They’ve had a ton of injuries this season, not to mention the loss of d-man Jason Garrison to free agency.

But there’s losing, and then there’s LOSING. Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Bruins was the Panthers’ sixth straight — a stretch that’s seen them outscored 30-8.

Florida (13-26-6) has the dubious distinction of owning the worst offense (2.24 goals per game) and the worst defense (3.58) in the NHL. Not surprisingly, the team also has the fewest points in the standings — just 32, five fewer than 29th-place Colorado.

After 45 games, the Panthers’ goal differential has dropped all the way to minus-58. The next worst in that category belongs to the Avs, at minus-33.

If this weren’t a shortened season, Florida would be on pace for a goal differential of minus-106. The last team to break the minus-century mark was the 2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins (-113). Remember how bad Columbus was last year? The Jackets finished at minus-60.

If the Panthers can take anything from their sixth loss in a row, at least Jacob Markstrom played well. The tall 23-year-old goalie stopped 36 of 38 Boston shots (the Bruins got an empty-netter) at TD Garden.

Markstrom has been waiting in the wings of the organization for quite some time now. He was drafted 31st overall in 2008 and has spent the better parts of three seasons in the AHL, with the odd NHL appearance mixed in.

Markstrom’s also typically been the first answer to the question, “Why don’t the Panthers trade for Roberto Luongo?”

Will we see the Luongo rumors pop up again this summer? Or, has that ship sailed?

Mercifully, the Panthers only have three games left. They close out their home schedule Thursday versus Toronto. Tickets are affordable.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.

MacArthur, Senators end Bruins’ season in OT after controversial calls

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It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.

Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.

Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.

People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.

Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.

The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.

Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.

Bergeron takes advantage of slow Sens change, sends Game 6 to OT (Video)

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Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?

Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.

Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.