BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins were disappointed with how they played the second period against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Boston made up for their struggles with the type of third period a team trying to secure a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs needed, finishing a 3-2 victory against the Panthers at TD Garden.
Bruins forward Milan Lucic scored with 1:09 left in regulation after linemate David Pastrnak tied the game earlier in the third period.
Although they outshot the Panthers 12-7, the Bruins were outhustled and outscored to enter the third period trailing 2-1.
The Bruins (39-25-13) lead the Panthers by six points for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. Boston maintained a three-point lead on the Ottawa Senators, who defeated the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in a shootout Tuesday.
"I think the reason that we had that situation was because of our second period; we really got away from our game," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Forwards and defense were really far apart and weren't moving the puck as well as we did in the first. We kind of regrouped there after the second and decided that we were going to come back and break out of our own end with a five-man unit, that way we could have support on the attack and probably move the puck a lot better than we did in the second period. So it was nice to see the guys react, down 2-1 and find a way to win. So to me it showed a lot of character on our part."
Lucic beat Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo with a wrist shot from the high slot after gaining the zone after a neutral-zone battle.
"First off, I was checking to see to make sure [center Ryan Spooner] was onside, and [it was] kind of a 1-on-4 situation and I just tried to get it past two D-men on net," Lucic said. "Like I said, got a little bit of a luck there and was able to find a little hole in the five-hole. It's just one of those things where you’re kind of swarmed and you're getting the puck on net. Thankfully it went in for myself and ends up being a big goal for a win."
Tuukka Rask made 22 saves, and Loui Eriksson scored for the Bruins, who have won three in a row and are 3-0-1 in their past four.
Spooner tied it 2-2 at 9:47 of the third period. Lucic won a race to a Pastrnak chip-in to wipe out a potential icing. Lucic passed to a trailing Spooner, who shot from the left hash mark.
The Panthers (35-27-15) lost in regulation for the first time in four games (2-1-1). Luongo made 26 saves, but the Panthers have lost their past eight games in Boston.
"I disappointed myself," Luongo said. "I feel like I let my teammates down tonight. I made a couple big saves in the start of the third, but no excuses for those last two goals there."
Eriksson scored in the first period. After he helped force a Jaromir Jagr giveaway near the corner of the Florida zone, Eriksson received a pass from linemate Carl Soderberg and skated across the slot with the puck on his backhand. Eriksson waited until Luongo went down and shot the puck into the top of the net from near the bottom of the right circle at 16:57 for a 1-0 lead.
Florida forward Brad Boyes scored on a breakaway, his first goal in nine games, to tie the game 2-2. Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski fanned on a shot up high in the Panthers zone, and Boyes stole the puck and skated end to end to beat Rask at 12:37.
The Panthers preserved their lead during a Bruins power play early in the third period. Luongo made an acrobatic save to deny Soderberg's one-timer in front with a blocker save.
"Well, we bounced back," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "You know, we didn't play the way we wanted to play in the second and we knew we needed to bounce back. We needed to be much better than we were, and we were. We found a way to be more effective, and we were more to ourselves and we found a way to win with two big goals."
Florida finishes the season with five home games starting against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
"Take it one game at a time," Luongo said. "The odds are against us but we're going to regroup and keep fighting."
The Bruins visit the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.