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Three Game Winning Streak has Panthers Back in the Playoff Picture



Courtesy @FlaPanthers

After dropping four straight games and seeing their playoff hopes fading, the Florida Panthers have reeled off three wins in a row to put themselves back firmly in the hunt for the wild card. As the Bruins continue to pull away in the division race with one of the best seasons in NHL history, the battle for the two wild card spots in the eastern conference has been heating up. The Islanders, Panthers, Penguins, Sabres and Senators are all within seven points of each other for the two eastern conference wild cards, with each team having roughly five games remaining in the season.  

The Islanders and the Penguins currently hold the two wild card spots with 87 and 86 points respectively, but a three-game winning streak has the Panthers just a point behind at 85 points. The Islanders only have four games left to play, while the Panthers and Penguins have 5 games left to play; the Sabres, sitting at 81 points, still have seven games left to play. This is a huge week for the Panthers as they take on the Sabres Tuesday night, followed by the Senators on Thursday, who currently sit fifth in the wild card race. 

The Panthers have come alive in the past week, scoring twelve goals in their last two games, lead by Carter Verhaeghe’s four goal performance against Columbus in a 7-0 win this past weekend. If Verhaeghe stays hot, along with the play of Tkachuk and Barkov, the Panthers have a good chance at locking up one of the final two wild card spots. A huge positive for the red-hot Panthers is that four of their final five games are at home in Sunrise, where they are 21-12-4 on the season. The Penguins on the other hand, are 4-6 over their last ten games and will be on the road for three of their final five games.

While jumping the Penguins and earning the last wild card spot would be great for the Panthers franchise and the fans here in South Florida, passing the Islanders as well, and avoiding the Bruins in the first round, would be massive for the Cats chances at making a run in the playoffs. The Bruins are having a historically good year at 60-12-5 with 125 points and five games still left to play. Whoever ends up in the second wild card spot is presumably looking at a quick series loss against a buzzsaw Boston team. If the Panthers jump the Islanders and claim that top wild card spot, they’ll face off against the Hurricanes instead. The Hurricanes, while still very good, sit at 107 points and would be a much better matchup for the Panthers. Coincidentally, the Panthers will take on the Hurricanes in their season finale on April 13th in a game that could have massive playoff implications.

This important five game stretch gets started Wednesday night at 7:00pm in Sunrise against the Buffalo Sabres, who sit one spot behind the Panthers in the playoff hunt. The Cats have fed off of the energy of their home crowd all year, so Panthers fans should be sure to pack FLA Live Arena over the next 10 days.



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