Found February 09, 2012 on Fox Sports Florida:
SUNRISE, Fla.- It's early February, and the Florida Panthers already are scoreboard watching. OK, so left winger Sean Bergenheim claimed he just happened to be looking up at the time Washington's shootout defeat was displayed Thursday night at the BankAtlantic Center. But don't think Bergenheim wasn't happy when he viewed it. "It was on board I think like with two or three minutes left," Bergenheim said about the Capitals' 3-2 loss to Winnipeg being displayed late in Florida's 3-1 win over Los Angeles. "That was good to see." It sure was for the Panthers, desperately trying to earn their first playoff berth in 11 years. They're locked in a battle with Washington that has resulted in playoff intensity showing up in South Florida two months before the end of the regular season. Because the two teams are in the Southeast, the Yugo of NFL divisions, it's possible only the winner will get a playoff berth. With the Panthers and Capitals flip-flopping first place in the division this week, they've also been rotating between the No. 3 and No. 9 seeds in the Eastern Conference. The No. 3 seed gets home ice in the first round of the playoffs and No. 9, of course, stays home. In feast-or-famine vein, that's like smorgasbord vs. celery. The Panthers had been in the No. 3 spot before stumbling all the way to No. 9 with Tuesday's embarrassing 4-0 loss at Washington. But now they're back to No. 3 due to the Capitals (28-21-5) blowing a 2-0 lead Thursday and getting just one point. Both teams have 61 points but Florida (25-17-11) is considered to be in first place in the division due to having played one less game. "The points are so crucial," said Panthers center Mike Santorelli. "It's so tight. Each game is so important. It's come down to playoff time now." And to think the NHL All-Star Game was contested just 11 days earlier. Santorelli sure helped the cause with a goal late in the second period that put the Panthers up 2-0. That followed Bergenheim having scored earlier in the period. The Panthers were feeling pretty good with that 2-0 lead. That was the score when Bergenheim saw Washington's loss on the scoreboard. "We kind of put ourselves in trouble with that one goal there, so we had to focus on the game," Bergenheim said about the Panthers not being able to get too excited on the bench. That's because Kings defenseman Drew Doughty scored with 2:28 left to cut the deficit to 2-1. But the Panthers soon cemented matters on an empty-net goal by right winger Matt Bradley with 49 seconds remaining. "It's a different situation than what I have been in ever before," Bergenheim, a seven-year veteran said of there being all this extra intensity surrounding Florida games now due to the nature of the standings. "We know we want to win our division. If we do, then we're going to be in the playoffs in a pretty good spot going into the playoffs. At the same time, we've got to be aware if you don't win (the division), there's a chance that we might not even make the playoffs. So, obviously, every single game is so important right now." Especially games against the Capitals. The Panthers have two more games against them, one Feb. 17 at home and the other April 5 on the road. That's the next-to-last game of the season, so that really might be like a playoff game. "I'd love to say that we need to rattle off eight games in a row, and that would be a nice way to put a stopper on all that," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said of the intensity of games now. If that doesn't happen, the Panthers figure to end up doing plenty of scoreboard watching. And it won't be by accident. Chris Tomasson can be reached at or on Twitter@christomasson

Panthers end 7-game skid against Kings

Sean Bergenheim and Mike Santorelli scored in the second period, sending the Florida Panthers to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. Matt Bradley also scored for the Panthers and Scott Clemmensen stopped 22 shots. Florida beat the Kings for the first time in eight tries, snapping a seven-game losing streak to them that dated to Nov. 27, 2002. Florida regained...

Panthers finally figure out Kings in victory

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Sean Bergenheim and Mike Santorelli scored in the second period, sending the Florida Panthers to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. Matt Bradley also scored for the Panthers and Scott Clemmensen stopped 22 shots. Florida beat the Kings for the first time in eight tries, snapping a seven-game losing streak to them that dated to Nov....

Panthers look to end loosing skid, down Kings

Tune into FOX Sports Florida at 7 p.m. to watch the Florida Panthers take on the Los Angeles Kings. NHL Panthers territory. The Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers are fighting for postseason spots in their respective conferences. If recent history is any indication, Los Angeles seems likely to come out of this next matchup in better shape. The Kings seek their eighth consecutive...

Budish, Bjugstad and Rau formidible for UM

MINNEAPOLIS Two are former Minnesota Mr. Hockey winners, the third might have been able to take home the same trophy if it weren't for an injury. All three players were selected in the top three rounds of the NHL draft and were among the top high school recruits in the country their senior seasons. Each of them could have ended up in various parts of the country, but Zach...

Northwest Athlete Profile Jason Garrison

NHL Hockey: Jason Garrison Jason Garrison #52 – D Florida Age: 27 DOB: 1984/11/13 POB: White Rock, B.C., Canada Height: 6-2 Weight: 214lbs Shoots: L NHL Seasons: 3 Signed by Florida in 2008 What is it about the small town of White Rock British Columbia that produces quality NHL talent? Jason Garrison is yet another product of the small West Coast town that has made his...

Florida Panthers’ Mike Santorelli fighting slump

When the Panthers signed Mike Santorelli to a one-year contract in the summer of 2010, no one was sure what to expect. The center was coming off a season in which he managed to play only 25 games for the Nashville Predators before getting shipped to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.

Panthers regain top spot in Southeast

SUNRISE, Fla. -- It was by no means pretty, but in a span of just under 13 minutes Thursday night the Florida Panthers managed to finally solve the mystery of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, awaken from an L.A. nightmare and grab the top spot again in the Southeast Division.But what the team put the fans through, at least offensively, was tough to watch. Florida produced just five...

TRH Gameday 55 - Florida Panthers: Gone Yay

Game #55 LA KINGS 26-18-1062 pts7th in Western ConferencevsFLORIDA PANTHERS24-17-1159 pts9th in Eastern Conference Kings Lead Season Series 1-0 4:30pm, Bank Atlantic CenterTampa Bay, FL BEST PLAYER TO WEAR BOTH COLORS: BEST OPPOSITION BLOG:Litter Box Cats It's time to play America's (and certain parts of Canada) new favorite Game Show!!! WHO! DOES! SIMON GAGNE...

Goals from Bergenheim, Santorelli lift Panthers

Sean Bergenheim and Mike Santorelli scored in the second period, sending the Florida Panthers to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.

Slow starts have hurt Florida Panthers

Like most teams in the National Hockey League, the Panthers are more comfortable playing with the lead and have been very successful in games in which they have scored first.

Todd Cordell: Devils look to get back on track as they host the Florida Panthers

Match-up- Panthers (25-17-11 - 61 points) @ Devils (31-19-4 - 66 points) TV - Fox-Sports Florida, MSG Plus 2 Puck drop - 1:00 PM ET Season series - Devils lead 2-1 Last 10: Florida 4-3-3 / New Jersey 6-2-2 Projected starting goalies - Scott Clemmensen (FLA) vs. Martin Brodeur (NJ) Battle of the stats Goals for/against per game Florida - 2.47 / 2.72 New Jersey -...

Los Angeles Kings (26-18-10) at Florida Panthers (24-17-11), 7:30 p.m. (ET)

Three goals seems to be the magic number for the Kings, but their first meeting with the Panthers this season was one of the exceptions to the rule.

Florida Panthers (25-17-11) at New Jersey Devils (31-19-4), 1 p.m. (ET)

The Florida Panthers hope to reclaim sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division with a scarce road win against the Devils this afternoon in New Jersey.

Florida Panthers top Los Angeles Kings, are tied for first

Sean Bergenheim and Mike Santorelli scored in the second as Florida beat Los Angeles on home ice for the first time since 2001.

Caps blank Panthers, snatch 1st

WASHINGTON (AP) Playing with a sense of urgency usually attached to a playoff game, the Washington Capitals needed only 13 seconds to take the lead in their first-place showdown with the Florida Panthers .
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.