Milan Lucic has gotten the better of Roberto Luongo before.
On Tuesday, the Boston Bruins power forward did it again, scoring with a wrist shot that beat Luongo with 1:09 remaining in regulation to give his team a 3-2 victory over the visiting Florida Panthers, who desperately needed a win and two points.
The Panthers entered the third period with the lead but gave up two goals in the final 10:13 of play, as David Pastrnak scored to tie the game, before Lucic did the damage with his winner. It’s a crucial win for Boston. It’s a devastating loss for Florida.
The Panthers had the chance, with a regulation win, to move within two points of the Bruins, holders of the final Wild Card spot in the East. Instead, the Bruins now pull six points ahead of the Panthers. Both teams have just five games remaining on their respective schedules.
Andrew Hammond will return to the net for the first time since getting shellacked in a 5-1 loss to the Rangers last week; Craig Anderson, who started consecutive losses to Toronto and Florida over the weekend, will revert to backup status… for now.
It remains to be seen what head coach Dave Cameron will do for the remaining seven games of the regular season. Ottawa’s in a dogfight with Boston for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and, at least for now, he’s going with Hammond, who has just one regulation loss in 17 appearances this season.
For Detroit, Petr Mrazek will start tonight — a decision that’s equally as compelling as the one in Ottawa. For more on that, click here.
Panthers at Bruins: Roberto Luongo vs. Tuukka Rask
‘Canes at Caps: Cam Ward vs. Braden Holtby
Devils at Jackets: Cory Schneider vs. Sergei Bobrovsky
Bolts at Leafs: Andrei Vasilevskiy (probable) vs. James Reimer
Canucks at Preds: Eddie Lack (apparently) vs. Pekka Rinne
Rangers at Jets: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Ondrej Pavelec
‘Almost like a game seven tonight’ for Bruins, Panthers
There’s plenty at stake tonight when the Bruins host the Panthers at TD Garden.
Just ask Claude Julien.
“I don’t think you should be breathing easy and I don’t think anybody in there has been breathing easy,” the B’s head coach said, per CSNNE. “I think it’s just one of those things where we know where we’re at. We know what we have to do here we just have to stay with the task at hand here, and keep focusing on what we need to do.
“Dave [Krejci] said it, and we’re not denying that either: ‘It’s almost like a game seven tonight.’ A lot of stuff can happen one way or another here depending on the outcome.”
A loss tonight would be damaging for Boston, and virtually fatal for Florida. The Panthers head into tonight’s action four points back of the Bruins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, with just six games remaining in the regular season. But the Panthers also hold the benefit of playing the B’s twice more down the stretch — tonight, and again on Apr. 9.
To make that second chance worth something, though, Florida has to get a result this evening.
“We’re playing well and we’ve got to play well again tonight,” head coach Gerard Gallant said, per the team’s website. “It’s going to be two hungry teams looking for the two points.”
Florida should have confidence heading into this tilt, having secured three of a possible four points from Boston in the first two matchups of the season. That includes a 2-1 shootout victory on Mar. 21, one in which Roberto Luongo stopped 26 of 27 shots and all three shootout attempts.
Luongo will draw back in tonight after sitting out Sunday’s win over Ottawa — veteran Dan Ellis got the victory — and look to continue his solid run of play against the Bruins this year, having posted a 1.40 GAA and .942 save percentage in just under 130 minutes of action.
Goalie Nods: Wings will start Mrazek for second straight day
Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard’s recent slump has been bad enough spark speculation about him potentially losing the starting job to 23-year-old netminder Mrazek. That debate only intensified after Mrazek posted a 23-save shutout against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
Under these circumstances, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has decided to start Mrazek against the New York Islanders despite the lack of rest. The only other time Detroit attempted to start Mrazek on back-to-back days this season, he allowed three goals on seven shots to the Buffalo Sabres before being pulled just 13:37 minutes into the second game.
There’s no word yet on who the Islanders will counter with.
Capitals at Rangers: Braden Holtby vs. Cam Talbot
Panthers at Senators: Craig Anderson will start for Ottawa; Roberto Luongo is the probable goaltender for Florida.
Bruins at Hurricanes: Tuukka Rask is expected to be fine for today’s game after dealing with dehydration issues on Saturday, so there’s a fair chance he’ll be between the pipes for Boston. Carolina will likely go with Anton Khudobin after using Cam Ward on Saturday, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
Flames at Predators: Jonas Hiller is confirmed for Calgary while there’s a fair chance Nashville will counter with Pekka Rinne.
Ducks at Devils: It’s not know who Anaheim will start, but Cory Schneider will be in goal for New Jersey.
Sharks at Penguins: Alex Stalock vs. Marc-Andre Fleury
Blackhawks at Jets: Corey Crawford vs. Ondrej Pavelec