NHL Game Summary - Florida at Atlanta
(Thursday, April 9th)
Final Score: Florida 3, Atlanta 2
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - David Booth scored the game-winner with under five minutes left, but the Florida Panthers couldn't fight off elimination despite a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.
Florida began the night two points behind the Rangers and three points behind Montreal for the eighth and seventh playoff spots, respectively. By virtue of the Rangers win, coupled with New York's tiebreaker over the Panthers, and Montreal's overtime loss to Boston, the Panthers were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Nathan Horton and Cory Stillman also scored for the Panthers, who had lost two of their previous three coming into Thursday's game to damage their playoff hopes. Tomas Vokoun made 23 saves to earn the victory.
"It's always tough to play when you have so much on the line, and you're playing against a team that can play loose," Vokoun said. "I think we showed a lot of character in the third period when we got down. On our power play, we battled back and won the game."
Zach Bogosian scored both goals for the Thrashers, who have lost three straight and finish up their season at home against Tampa Bay on Saturday. Johan Hedberg stopped 28-of-31 shots in the defeat.
"We were in the box too much. You can't kill off that many penalties and expect to win the game," Bogosian said. "We have to be more disciplined, myself included. We're going to battle until the end. If we're not going to the playoffs, we don't want anyone else to, either.
Bogosian put the Thrashers ahead on a shorthanded tally at 5:42 of the third period, but the Panthers came back 50 seconds later, as Stillman tipped a Gregory Campbell shot to the top right corner of the net to equalize the score.
The Panthers took their first lead late in the game. Booth took a wide-angle shot from near the crease that was initially saved, but he grabbed his own rebound and stuffed it home at 15:35.
Atlanta pulled Hedberg in the final moments for a chance to tie the score, but Florida fended off the rally and held on for the win.
Atlanta took the early lead in the first on the power play. Bogosian took the puck in the left circle and blasted a slapshot through Vokoun's legs at 9:17.
Horton tied the game late in the second period on a wide-angle shot that barely snuck across the line in the upper part of the net at 16:40.
Florida won the season series, 4-2...The Panthers will close out their season against the Capitals on Saturday...Florida has not made the playoffs since the 1999-2000 season...Stephen Weiss had a pair of assists for Florida, while Horton also recorded a helper.
04/09 22:35:12 ET