(SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers didn't do themselves any favors on a recent road trip, but at least the playoff-hopeful club is done packing its bags for the rest of the regular season.
The Panthers finish out the slate with a five-game homestand, a critical residency that begins on Thursday night versus the Carolina Hurricanes.
Florida returns home following a 2-2-1 road trip that included a back-breaking 3-2 setback to the Boston Bruins in Tuesday's finale. That setback dropped the Panthers six points behind the Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins also have five games remaining, including a road test versus the Panthers on April 9, and visit the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
Florida had a 2-1 lead over Boston going into the final period on Tuesday thanks to second-period tallies from Brandon Pirri and Brad Boyes, but the Bruins scored twice in the third, getting the winner with 1:09 to play.
Roberto Luongo failed in his second attempt at his 400th career victory, giving up three goals on 29 shots faced.
"We needed a win. That was it," said Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell. "On to the next one, you know? We'll be playing our tails off doing everything we can to put points on the board. That's all we can control."
The Panthers got a bit of a scare when veteran forward Jaromir Jagr took a slash to his hand that caused him to miss some time during the game, but he is expected to play tonight. Jagr has four goals and 12 points in 15 games since being acquired from New Jersey.
The Hurricanes have lost six of their past eight games, including a 4-2 setback to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. Eric Staal and Nathan Gerbe tallied to erase a 2-0 deficit, but the Caps scored twice in a 1:22 span late in the middle frame.
Cam Ward allowed all four goals on 20 shots in the loss.
"Tonight wasn't the effort we wanted out of the group," said Gerbe. "You can't win games if you don't put the effort in."
Staal has three goals and four assists over his past five games.
Carolina expects to be without forward Riley Nash for a third game in a row due to a concussion suffered during pregame warmups on Sunday before a meeting with Boston. Nash has eight goals and 17 assists in 68 games this season.
The Panthers have won the first two of three meetings this season, 1-0 at home on Nov. 26 and 2-0 at Carolina on March 14. Luongo and Al Montoya put together a combined effort in the first shutout, with Luongo exiting early due to injury, and Dan Ellis posting 27 saves in the more recent win.
Luongo is 11-14-1 with a 2.54 goals against average and .924 save percentage in 29 meetings (27 starts).
Ward was in net for both setbacks despite stopping 47-of-49 shots faced in total, falling to 15-12-2 in this matchup with a 2.78 GAA and .906 save percentage.
The Panthers have won five of their last seven at home against the Hurricanes.