Florida Panthers

Panthers squeak by Islanders in SO to stay on Bruins’ heels

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The Boston Bruins pulled off a dramatic comeback against the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon, putting the pressure on the Florida Panthers to beat the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders just to keep pace. The Panthers didn’t make it look easy, but they got two points in a 4-3 shootout victory.

Without defenseman Aaron Ekblad and forward Tomas Kopecky (both flu), the Panthers leaned heavily on 35-year-old Brian Campbell and 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr, giving them 26:18 and 21:12 minutes of ice time respective. However, it was ultimately Jonathan Huberdeau, 21, that proved to be the hero tonight.

He netted a key goal for the Panthers in the third period and accounted for the only marker in the shootout.

The Panthers also had Dan Ellis playing between the pipes as goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya are both sidelined. Ellis kicked out 25 of 28 shots before out dueling Frans Nielsen, John Tavares, and Josh Bailey in the skills competition.

Florida improved to 29-23-14 to remain two points shy of the Bruins in the battle for the second Wild Card spot. It’s worth noting though that Boston has a huge lead in ROW (30 to 22), so any tie is projected to go to the Bruins.

Seguin (knee) back as Stars cling onto playoff hopes

At this point, the odds are heavily stacked against the Dallas Stars in their fight to advance to the postseason, but at least they’re getting a key player back for the final stretch. Tyler Seguin returned from a knee injury Saturday night that was the result of a hit from Panthers’ defenseman Dmitry Kulikov on Feb. 13.

Seguin was originally projected to miss three to six weeks so the fact that he’s already good to play is a stroke of luck in favor of Dallas. Prior to being injured, Seguin had been one of the league’s top players this season with 29 goals and 59 points in 55 games.

Dallas was just three points shy of a Wild Card spot when he went down, but the team has gone 3-5-2 in his absence. Dallas consequently is eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets and the second Wild Card spot as a result.

The Stars are playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.

Goalie Nods: Hutchinson gets a sixth straight start

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Michael Hutchinson gets the nod in Nashville

Michael Hutchinson will look to right the ship tonight in Nashville. The Jets’ goaltender allowed three goals on 17 shots in a loss to the Senators on Wednesday. Hutchinson has lost three of his last five games while posting a 2.57 GAA and .906 save percentage. The Jets have not won in Nashville this season and will look to avoid a third straight loss to the Preds.

Pekka Rinne, who has lost four in a row, gets the nod for Nashville.

Elsewhere…

Blues at Leafs: Brian Elliott vs. Jonathan Bernier

Stars at Lightning: Jhonas Enroth vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Islanders at Panthers: Michal Neuvirth vs. Dan Ellis

Sabres at Capitals: Anders Lindback (unconfirmed) vs. Braden Holtby

Avalanche at Blue Jackets: Semyon Varlamov vs. Curtis McElhinney

Canadiens at Coyotes: Carey Price vs. Mike Smith

Penguins at Kings: Marc-Andre Fleury (unconfirmed) vs. Jonathan Quick (unconfirmed).

Canucks at Sharks: Eddie Lack vs. Antti Niemi

Stars’ Seguin is ‘a possibility’ tonight in Tampa

The Dallas Stars could have forward Tyler Seguin in the lineup tonight when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Seguin has missed 10 games with a knee injury.

“He’s a possibility,” Stars’ coach Lindy Ruff told Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News. “We’ll have him go for warm-up and make him a game-time decision.”

The 23-year-old has not played since Feb. 13 after taking a low hit from Flordia Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.

The Stars have gone 3-5-2 in his absence.

Seguin had 29 goals and 59 points in 55 games prior to the injury.

The Lightning won the only other meeting between the two clubs 5-3 in Dallas on Feb. 5.

Friedman: Ducks felt their success was a ‘bit of a mirage’

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The Anaheim Ducks are an interesting team, to say the least.

Sixty-six games into the season and the Ducks sit atop the NHL standings with a 42-17-7 record.

Yet compared to the other teams in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, Anaheim’s statistics are remarkably, um, unremarkable:

— Ninth in goals per game
— 18th in goals-against
— 22nd-ranked power play, with the 13th-ranked PK
— 16th in shots per game, 15th in shots against
— 15th in score-adjusted Fenwick

As we’ve noted before on PHT, the one thing the Ducks have done really well is win one-goal games, in which they’re a rather implausible 26-0-7.

Where are we going with all this?

Well, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Ducks themselves had doubts that they were as good as their record suggested. Hence, all the trades they made leading up to the deadline, acquiring the likes of James Wisniewski, Simon Despres, and Korbinian Holzer for the blue line, as well as forwards Tomas Fleischmann and Jiri Sekac.

“It’s interesting. They really like what they did,” Friedman told Sportsnet 960 yesterday, per Nichols on Hockey. “And it’s pretty clear – and I didn’t really realize it until I spoke to them – they think that their success was a little bit of a mirage. That they felt that [goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson] were absolutely saving them and they didn’t think they were very good.

“They felt very strongly that they could handle themselves against the heavier teams. The Kings, they felt okay with. The Blues, they felt okay with. But the really good-skating teams – the Blackhawks and some of the Eastern teams that saw them recently like Tampa – they thought they were just terrible against them. They couldn’t get the puck and they had nothing they could do.”

The Ducks, by the way, have won seven of their last eight heading into tonight’s game versus Pittsburgh.