Coach Andrew Brunette says the Florida Panthers should be proud of themselves as they became the first team to clinch a place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Panthers, 19/4 to win the Stanley Cup in 2021/22, have a remarkable 49-15-6 record so far this season, which is the most wins in their history and with a 6-5 overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, they set a franchise record with 104 points.
The Panthers were 5-1 down against the Maple Leafs before overturning the score-line. It was the fourth time this season that they had overcome a four-goal deficit, becoming the third team in NHL history to do that.
Florida have qualified for the playoffs in three straight seasons after reaching the post-season just twice in the previous 18 before that. They have yet to make it past the first round (not since 1995/96).
With victory over the Leafs, the Panthers hold an eight-point lead over their Canadian rivals for the Atlantic Divisional Lead.
The 28-year-old forward Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice and had three assists, including the overtime winner against Toronto to surpass 100 points this season (now 102; 26 goals, 76 assists). He sits second behind Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid for most points in the NHL.
Brunette said to the media: "They should be proud of themselves. I think that's the number one goal heading into the season, and we have one of them. Lots of hockey left, but let's enjoy the moment. It's been an interesting 70 games, and they deserve every ounce of credit they are getting."