Surging Panthers continue playoff push in Detroit

The Florida Panthers have surged into contention for a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.They’ll try to collect two more valuable points when they visit the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.Florida is 5-0-1 over its past six games, including a 4-2 victory Saturday over New Jersey.The Panthers (35-27-7, 77 points) are in third place in the race for the conference’s two wild-card berths. Florida trails the New York Islanders by three points in the chase and the Pittsburgh Penguins by one point.Sam Reinhart scored two goals to lead Florida past New Jersey on Saturday.”This is the most fun time to play,” he said. “The atmosphere (Saturday), you could sense it right from the start. The fans know what position we’re in. We’re enjoying the battle. It was nice to get that (win) on home ice.”The Devils scored both of their goals in the second period to take a 2-0 lead. Florida roared back in the final 20 minutes, with Matthew Tkachuk’s 32nd goal of the season, at the 8:44 mark, proving to be the game-winner. Reinhart clinched the victory with an empty-netter with 21 seconds to play.”When we get the momentum, we’ve got to keep it as long as possible because we seem to thrive off it,” Tkachuk said. “We all love playing here. Momentum was big for us. The fans were great. They got loud in the third.”Most of the people in the building on Monday will be rooting against the Panthers. They’ll have to get used to it, as the game begins a stretch in which they’ll play six of eight games on the road.”We like where our game’s at,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “We’re playing hard and playing smart. We have four lines that can play and contribute.”The Red Wings (30-29-9, 69 points) have lost nine of their past 11 games to drop out of postseason contention.