SUNRISE, Fla. — Panthers coach Bob Boughner went from hopeful to desolate to elated in a matter of seconds.
“It was a crazy finish,” Boughner said. “Ten seconds to go and you’re thinking it’s over, then you see the clock tick down and the puck go in.”
Viktor Arvidsson was posted in front of Florida goalie Roberto Luongo on the play, and his stick made contact with Luongo as he tried to shove in a rebound. The puck slid under Luongo in the crease, and Forsberg swooped in for an easy score. It was called a goal on the ice, but replay officials ruled that Arvidsson had interfered with Luongo, saying his stick “caused Luongo to spin and cause the covered puck to come loose.”
“Obviously, at first, I wasn’t quite sure what happened, but once I saw the replay, the puck was between my legs and the guys just basically pitchforked me,” Luongo said. “And as he spun me around, the puck came loose. I was happy that they made the right call there because it was going to be a little bit upsetting if that would have been a goal.”
The Predators didn’t agree.
“We scored a goal to tie the game with less than a second left, and then they take it away from us,” Forsberg said. “This one was clearly a goal. The puck is never covered, the goalie had no clue where it is, and it ends up on my tape and it’s in.”
Luongo tied a season high with 45 saves. Colton Sceviour scored the winning goal and Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for Florida. Luongo started his second game in two nights and had to take fluids intravenously after Monday’s 3-2 win over Carolina.
“After last night’s game, I made sure that I did whatever was necessary to get the recovery needed within 24 hours to play again. I was happy the way I felt,” Luongo said.
Roman Josi scored for NHL-leading Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 31 saves. The Predators would have clinched the Western Conference with a win.
“We played a good game,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Their goalie played really well. There’s a lot at stake for them as well. Our guys played hard, we just couldn’t hit the back of the net.”
The Panthers are four points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference and five behind the New Jersey Devils with a game in hand.
“It was a great to finish to a hard-fought game by both teams,” Boughner said. “A tough test in back-to-back against the best team in the league. (Luongo) made some amazing saves when they had their pushes. He was the difference tonight.”
Sceviour stretched the Panthers lead to 2-0 at 10:33 of the third. Evgenii Dadonov flipped the puck from behind the net back to Sceviour on the right side, who poked it past Rinne.
“I was the beneficiary there,” Sceviour said. “(Dadonov) did a lot of the work there and made a heck of a pass. I just had to put it in pretty much an open net.”
The Predators closed to 2-1 on Josi’s goal with 3:52 left in the third. Josi fired a shot from in front that got past Luongo.
Huberdeau’s deflection gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with 1:30 left in the first. Jamie McGinn shot from the right side, and the puck bounced off Huberdeau and got past Rinne.
Luongo made a save at 11:27 of the second and went down on the ice when the puck hit his rib area but remained in the game.
A few high-profile hockey fans joined the Smashville faithful in blasting the overturned goal on social media.
“Dear @nhl I love you and I always will but @PredsNHL were robbed tonight,” wrote actor Kiefer Sutherland.
“I am seriously livid. @NHL , fix this,” said Carrie Underwood , wife of predators forward Mike Fisher.
“Hey @NHL , those are the kind of calls that cause fans to lose faith in the head office,” said golfer Brandt Snedeker.
NOTES: Luongo, who turns 39 on April 4, is one game away from becoming the third goaltender in NHL history to play 1,000 games. … Arvidsson returned after missing the last game with a lower-body injury.
Predators: At Washington on Thursday night.
Panthers: Host Boston on Thursday night.