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Two Points Remain

Thanks to a big point in Detroit on Sunday, Panthers just two points shy of making the playoffs for first time since 2000.

Monday, 04.2.2012 / 1:15 PM ET / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Two Points Remain
With the Panthers gaining a point in a shootout loss in Detroit, Florida can clinch a playoff spot following Tuesday's action, including a big home game against Winnipeg. (Getty Images)
Two points.

That’s all that remains between the Panthers and their first playoff berth in 12 years.

While Florida was able to take four out of a possible eight points on the just completed four-game road trip, they did rebound nicely from a setback in Columbus with a gritty effort in Detroit to take a valuable point in a 2-1 shootout loss.

“I thought we played one of our better games maybe of the season. Guys worked hard, were accountable in all areas,” said defenseman Brian Campbell following the game. “It would have been nice to obviously get two but it was a big effort and we needed that one to keep us going.”

“It reminds me a little bit of the Pittsburgh game where I thought we played a fairly complete game but we just have to find a way to keep on scratching and clawing," said head coach Kevin Dineen. "We walk out of it feeling pretty good going into an incredibly tough building.

"I just liked the tone and tempo of the game. I felt we played extremely hard from literally the drop of the puck until the shootout was over."

The point gained against Detroit can certainly go a long way for the Panthers in clinching a playoff spot as well as the Southeast Division. Florida now sits three points up in the Division race on Washington with both teams having three games left on the schedule. Buffalo, the only team that has a chance to knock out Florida or Washington for a playoff spot, sits five points back with three games left.

“It's a big point for us because we can't tie with Washington. Any point is big for us and three games left, a game in Washington is obviously key,” said Clemmensen, arguably the Panthers best player against Detroit as he stopped 31 of 32 shots. “You want to get the win. You want to win all the time but in hindsight, I'll think we'll look back at this one a week from now and say this one was possibly a very critical point.”

For Florida, making the playoffs is left right on their plates.

“I hope we would think it's our destiny,” said forward Kris Versteeg who set up the Panthers only goal with a nice cross ice pass to Tomas Fleischmann in the first period. “It's in our hands now. It's up to us to go out and play hockey and play against some good teams coming up.”

“The ball is in our court obviously for our division, it's in our hands. We have the opportunity so we're still looking at that,” said Campbell. “First you need to clinch a playoff spot and that's something we're working on.”

Clinching that coveted playoff spot can come as early as Tuesday. Either a win by Florida, regulation loss by Buffalo or post-regulation losses by both would put the Panthers in the second season. And if Tampa Bay beats Washington in regulation Monday night, so could a shot at a Division title.

“I look at us as we have a big game on Tuesday and then we have a bigger game on Thursday,” said Dineen. “We won't look past Tuesday. I've been giving you the same schtick for a couple of months now but certainly we're excited.”

“You want to be playing your best hockey this time of year and I think that you feel it. The whole team is into it,” said Clemmensen. “Such a fun time to be playing right now. Everyone is expecting to make the playoffs. You want to be there. ..It's always fun to be a part of what's going on right now in South Florida for this team.

“It will be an exciting game Tuesday night against a Division rival,” said Campbell. “It's a must win game for us.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
5 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
6 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 55 25 24 6 154 169 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 51 17 21 14 38
J. Jokinen 54 11 27 12 38
J. Huberdeau 54 10 28 12 38
V. Trocheck 54 17 18 3 35
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
R. Smith 54 18 16 12 34
B. Pirri 50 11 13 -4 24
A. Ekblad 50 10 13 20 23
B. Campbell 54 5 17 20 22
N. Bjugstad 39 9 10 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 24 13 5 .928 2.17
A. Montoya 8 3 1 .929 2.01

 
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