Scoreboard watching: Lightning win drops Panthers into second place

Cats fall a spot with two biggest games of season on deck

The Sunshine State's other NHL team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, did what the Florida Panthers could not, beat the visiting Detroit Red Wings, and in a convincing 6-2 rout.

Florida now finds itself tied with the Bolts at 89 points, with 9 games left to go, but Tampa Bay moved into first place in the Atlantic Division, as they hold two tiebreakers over the Cats.

Okay, so that's the bad news, The good news is the game between the Lightning and Red Wings was decided in regulation. Fourth place Detroit stayed stuck six points behind the Panthers and burned the game in hand it held. As long as the Cats stay ahead of the Red Wings, they are guaranteed a playoff spot.

In another piece of good news - bad news, the Columbus Blue Jackets staged a miraculous late rally to pull off a 3-2 shootout win over the surging Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers picked up a point, but the Blue Jackets, who scored shorthanded with a 1:04 left in regulation and then again with 8 seconds to go to send the game to overtime before Boone Jenner won it in round five of the skills competition, kept them from a second one. Quite the achievement, considering.

So, after an interesting night of scoreboard watching, the idle Panthers odds of making the playoffs actually increased 0.4% to a hearty 99.1%.

The docket will be much lighter tonight with only two games taking place. The Ottawa Senators face the New York Islanders and in the key one for Panther fans, Boston will visit the New York Rangers.

Here's hoping the Rangers win, and tire the Bruins out in the process, giving the rested and waiting Cats more of an advantage when they face the B's on Thursday night at TD Garden.

With 9 games to go, I think the Panthers will:

Win the division32
Finish in second place41
Finish in third place12
Fall into a wild card spot9
Miss the playoffs4