Boston Bruins

The Bruins’ chances of winning the Atlantic Division took a serious blow on Thursday night, as the B’s fell 3-2 to the Florida Panthers at BB&T Arena. The idle Tampa Bay Lightning reclaimed first place in the Atlantic by taking the tiebreaker in regulation & overtime wins (ROW), now that they are tied with the Bruins at 80 games apiece.

Florida jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period, as Panthers standout Aleksander Barkov drew first blood with a tip-in for his 27th goal of the season. Former Bruin Frank Vatrano put his new team up two when he won a puck battle over Charlie McAvoy and backhanded it point-blank past Tuukka Rask for his sixth goal.

But as they’ve done so many times this season, the Bruins clawed back. It started with rookie Ryan Donato, who held his position in front of the net as he sniffed out a loose rebound, slapped it out of mid-air, and jammed it home through Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo:

Just 2:11 into the second period, Danton Heinen got the equalizer when he took advantage of a turnover forced by David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk and fired it short-side past Luongo to make it 2-2.

But unfortunately for the B’s, the defense couldn’t clear Jared McCann from the front of the net. The Panthers center got in good position to deflect Mike Matheson’s point shot, and he chopped it well enough to bounce it over Rask’s shoulder to put the Panthers up 3-2.

Up Next: The Bruins (49-19-12) head back home having lost control of their playoff destiny, but they have a very winnable game on Saturday against the lowly Ottawa Senators (28-41-11).