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Friday, March 19th (All times eastern)

Florida Panthers (27-29-14-3) at Atlanta Thrashers (29-34-7-4), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of teams clinging to slim playoff hopes meet tonight, as the Florida Panthers visit the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena.

Atlanta has 69 points and is nine behind the New York Islanders for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Panthers are just seven behind the Isles.

Florida is coming off a wild win over the Islanders on Wednesday night. Roberto Luongo made 50 saves to lead the Panthers to the 6-4 victory at Office Depot Center.

Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton, Olli Jokinen, Matt Cullen, Mikael Samuelsson and Donald Audette each scored goals for the Panthers, who were outshot 54-24, but beat the Islanders for the first time this season (1-3).

Florida scored four straight goals to erase a 2-0 deficit and pick up their third consecutive victory.

The Islanders tied a franchise record with 28 shots in the first period, but held just a 2-1 advantage after 20 minutes. Florida then scored all three goals of the second stanza to take the lead for good.

The Panthers open a two-game homestand against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. The ninth-place Sabres are also fighting for a playoff berth.

Atlanta came closer to official elimination Wednesday, as Derek Roy's fluke goal just 15 seconds into overtime lifted Buffalo to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory at Philips Arena.

Andy Sutton registered a pair of goals and Ilya Kovalchuk had the other as the Thrashers had their brief two-game win streak ended.

Buffalo's Martin Biron picked up the win in an otherwise chippy affair, stopping 20 shots, while counterpart Pasi Nurminen made 29 saves in regulation before allowing the first shot of overtime to get by him.

The teams combined for 125 penalty minutes, as 11 fighting majors were handed out.

Atlanta, 3-1-0-2 in its last six home games, completes a four-game homestand tonight. The Thrashers then travel to Washington on Saturday for the opener of a home-and-home series.

Florida has lost three straight to Atlanta, including a 4-3 overtime setback in the last meeting on December 6. The Thrashers have won five of the previous seven matchups, but are just 2-4-3 in the last nine tilts in Atlanta.

03/19 15:14:44 ET


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