Panthers stay alive in playoff hunt with win over Hurricanes
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Panthers preserved their playoff hopes thanks to much of their offense coming from unlikely sources.
Evgenii Dadonov and MacKenzie Weegar also scored to help the Panthers snap a three-game skid and pull five points behind idle New Jersey for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Florida has four games remaining, one more than the Devils. Roberto Luongo stopped 26 shots.
Petrovic and Weegar entered the game with one goal each on the season.
“It doesn’t come too often, but everyone chips in a certain way and tonight we just found a way to get the two points,” Petrovic said. “Just keeping this thing alive.”
On the go-ahead goal, Petrovic shot from the boards above the right circle and beat Darling with 7:58 left for his first goal since Feb. 14 against Vancouver. His second goal of the season couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Panthers host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
“We needed tonight’s win at all costs,” Luongo said. “We got the job done, now we’ve got to get some rest tonight and another big game tomorrow.”
“They knew they needed two points tonight and they were going for it,” van Riemsdyk said. “They were desperate, and they found a way.”
Carolina had tied it 2-2 with 6:12 left in the second it caught Florida on a line change, and Ryan backhanded the puck past Luongo for his 15th.
The Hurricanes were eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday night and could have played the spoiler role.
“More than trying to ruin their season it’s us playing for pride for each other. That’s more important for me,” Ryan said. “They dug deep when the pressure was on.”
The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead on a goal by van Riemsdyk 3:44 in. Luongo blocked a shot from in front by Brock McGinn but van Riemsdyk slapped in the rebound for his third.
The Panthers answered 19 seconds later when Weegar’s shot from the right circle went over Darling’s glove for his second of the season. Weegar’s last goal was on Oct. 20 against Pittsburgh.
“We’ve got to respond after they score, and we did just that. I’m happy I could contribute. It’s been a long time,” Weegar said.
Dadonov gave the Panthers ahead 2-1 on a power-play goal with 9.1 seconds left in the first. Aleksander Barkov passed over to Dadonov in the slot and he flipped the puck off Darling’s leg for his 27th.
NOTES: Barkov’s assist on Dadonov’s goal was his 50th, becoming the first Panthers player to hit that mark since Olli Jokinen had 52 in the 2006-07 season. … Panthers forwards Frank Vatrano and Denis Malgin returned after missing the previous game with injuries.Carolina recalled D Roland McKeown from AHL Charlotte on Sunday.
Hurricanes: At Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Panthers: Host Nashville on Tuesday night.
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