The Florida Panthers lost again on Friday night, their seventh in the past eight games, thanks to a third period collapse that saw them turn a one-goal lead with 17 minutes to play into a 7-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
The loss keeps the Panthers six points out of a playoff spot with only 16 games to play in the regular season, while four teams (New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Philadelphia Flyers) all sit between them and the second wild card spot. For the Panthers to surpass the 93 points the Islanders — currently holding the second wild card spot — are on track for Florida would need to collect at least 25 out of a possible 32 points the rest of the way, something that would require at least a 12-3-1 run to close out the season.
Needless to say, they have very little margin for error and are running out of time to make up that ground.
“Our whole season, right now, has been a disappointment,” said Panthers forward Jon Marchessault after Friday’s game, via the Miami Herald. “At this point of the year, time is limited. We have less games, we need to turn this boat around.”
If they are going to get things turned around it pretty much has to start tonight against a Tampa Bay Lightning team that will be playing without almost all of its centers due to injuries and recent trades.
If the Panthers can get a win on Saturday — preferably one in regulation — it will just be one step out of the money needed to get back into playoff contention.
But a loss — and especially if it is in regulation — would pretty much give them no margin for error the rest of the way and might be the dagger in what has been an exceptionally disappointing season.