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SUNRISE Authentic Rasheem Green Jersey , Fla. — The Boston Bruins clinched a playoff berth, and just how motivated they will be to beat the host Florida Panthers on Thursday night at the BB&T Center remains to be seen.
The Florida Panthers, on the other hand, are fighting for their hockey lives. They must win their three remaining games — home-and-home with the Bruins sandwiching a contest against the Buffalo Sabres — and hope that either the Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils or Philadelphia Flyers stumble the rest of this week.
“We have to win out,” Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau said. “We have to win every game.”
Meanwhile, the Bruins (49-18-12) are locked in a fight with the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division. Both teams have 110 points, but Boston has one game in hand.
On Tuesday night, the Bruins were embarrassed in a 4-0 loss at the Lightning. It was Boston’s second straight defeat — and that is not the way a team wants to head into the playoffs.
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has had a great season with a 2.32 goals-against average and a 34-12-5 record. But his performance on Tuesday against Tampa Bay was not his best.
“Two goals from distance — he’s been better (in other games), and I think he would be the first one to say that,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “The second goal might have been through traffic. But the first one simply can’t go in.
“We didn’t score … so it might not have mattered.”
So there you have it: A desperate Panthers team that needs to win and hope for help to make it as an Eastern Conference wild-card playoff team competing against a Bruins squad that is already in but wants to be sharper as it prepares for the postseason.
The Panthers are coming off their most dramatic game of the year, a 2-1 home win over Nashville Predators Titans Authentic Jerseys , a team with the best record in the NHL.
With the Panthers clinging to that 2-1 lead, Nashville pulled its goalie for an extra attacker during the final three minutes. Panthers center Aleksander Barkov had a chance at an empty-net goal to ice the game, but his shot hit the post.
Given a reprieve, Nashville turned up the pressure. Incredibly, the Predators scored with 0.3 seconds left as Filip Forsberg tapped in a loose puck. But after a dramatic video review, it was ruled that Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo had stopped the puck before Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson spun him around with his stick.
Goalie interference was the call, and Luongo — naturally — agreed.
“At first, I wasn’t sure what happened,” Luongo said. “But once I saw the replay, the puck was between my legs. (Arvidsson) pitch-forked me. As he spun me around, the puck came loose.
“(The puck) was definitely under me. It was between my legs and covered. Once he spun me around, the puck came out. It’s pretty clear.”
Luongo Corey Seager Jersey , who turned 39 on Wednesday, gave a shout out to the replay crew after beating Nashville in career game No. 999
“I was happy they made the right call,” he said. “It would’ve been upsetting if it would’ve been ruled a goal. (During the review), I was trying not to snap if they allowed the goal. That’s what I kept telling myself.”
Boston still has a shot to overtake Nashville in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, trailing by three points with a game in hand.
For Thursday’s game, one player to watch is Florida’s Colton Sceviour, normally a bottom-six forward. In the Panthers’ past two games, however, he made a third-period, game-winning play in each. He got a hit and an assist that led to the winning goal against the Carolina Hurricanes and scored the winning goal against Nashville.
Florida is relatively healthy. Boston, meanwhile, will be without defenseman Brandon Carlo (ankle) and winger Anders Bjork (shoulder). In addition Adidas Alex Ovechkin Jersey , two key players, winger Rick Nash (upper body) and center Riley Nash (ear), are questionable.The Charlotte Hornets have agreed to trade eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets for center Timofey Mozgov and two second-round draft picks, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The Hornets will get the Nets’ second-round pick Thursday night (45th overall) and a second-round pick in 2021, the person said. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the teams have not announced the trade and the league cannot approve the deal until the trade moratorium ends on July 6.
The 32-year-old Howard played only one season for Charlotte, averaging 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He is due to make .8 million this season, the final year of his contract.
Brooklyn will be Howard’s fourth team in as many seasons. He had pushed for a trade from Orlando to the Nets during the 2011-12 season in hopes of joining Deron Williams, then changed his mind and recommitted the Magic, who instead dealt him to the Lakers that summer.
After later spending three seasons with the Houston Rockets, Howard was acquired by his hometown Atlanta Hawks in 2016 as a free agent and signed a three-year contract. But he wore out his welcome after one season and was dealt to Charlotte. The Hornets, in the midst of a major organizational shake-up, having already replaced their general manager and coach Kyle Long Jersey Youth , could be on the verge of shaking up their roster, too.
Howard struggled to mesh with guard Nicolas Batum, and the Hornets failed to make the playoffs despite what former coach Steve Clifford considered the team’s most talented roster in half a decade.
This is a reunion of sorts for Mozgov. Recently hired Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak signed Mozgov to a four-year, million deal in 2016 when both were with the Los Angeles Lakers.
While the move allows the Hornets to unload Howard’s contract and save about million under this year’s salary cap, it is a bit of a gamble because Mozgov has two years remaining on his current deal at million per year.
Mozgov’s numbers pale in comparison to Howard’s.
He played in only 31 games last season for the Nets, averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds. Acquired along with D’Angelo Russell, Mozgov began the season in the starting lineup but quickly fell out of the rotation entirely on a team that preferred to play small and shoot 3-pointers.
The 7-foot-1 Mozgov has not played a full 82-game season since 2013 and has averaged in double figures only once during his eight-year NBA career. By contrast, Howard has averaged 17.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and two blocks per game since joining the league in 2004.
His rim protection should help what has been a poor defensive team and he could help in the pick-and-roll with Russell and Jeremy Lin, but the biggest incentive to the Nets is likely for salary reasons with Howard’s contract expiring after next season.
AP Basketball Writers Tim Reynolds and Brian Mahoney contributed to this report.
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