Panthers shut out Senators, near home-ice advantage in first round of playoffs

Walter Villa, Miami Herald on

Published in Hockey

SUNRISE, Fla. — It’s official — this is the second-greatest regular season in Florida Panthers history.

The Panthers, who shut out the visiting Ottawa Senators, 2-0, on Tuesday night, have 104 points. This season’s Panthers passed the 2015-2016 team (103 points). But with just three games left, Florida’s franchise record of 122 points — set in 2021-2022 — is out of reach.

A word of caution for Panthers fans however: Those two other 100-points-plus teams took early exits from the playoffs. The 2015-2016 Panthers lost in the first round, and the 2021-2022 squad was swept out of the second round by Tampa Bay.

And, historically, the two Panthers teams that made it to the Stanley Cup Final, including last year, finished the regular season with exactly 92 points each.

But that’s history — literally.

At the moment, the Panthers are looking to secure home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Their final three games, all at home, are: Thursday against Columbus, Saturday against Buffalo and Tuesday against the charging Toronto Maple Leafs.


Florida needs to stay ahead of Toronto (101 points) to secure home ice. The Panthers are also just three points behind Boston for first place in the Atlantic Division.

As for Tuesday’s win, the Panthers can thank backup goalie Anthony Stolarz, who earned his second shutout of the season while also picking up his fourth career assist.

Only four other Panthers goalies have ever recorded a shutout and dished an assist in the same game: John Vanbiesbrouck, James Reimer, Tomas Vokoun and Trevor Kidd.

“At the end of the day,” Stolarz said, “the shutout was the most important thing.”


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