Milestone watch in effect as Panthers host Bruins

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SUNRISE, Fla. -- On Tuesday night, right winger Jaromir Jagr tied for second place on the NHL career points list, and goalie Roberto Luongo tied for fifth place in all-time wins.

On Thursday night, Jagr and Luongo could break those ties.

Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe said on Tuesday that Jagr is a "great guy" in addition to being a future Hall of Famer.

"It was really cool to be a part of it," Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe said Tuesday after Jagr was credited with three assists to tie Mark Messier for second place on the points list behind Wayne Gretzky.

"What a great human being (Jagr) is -- the way he comes to work every day is unbelievable. It was great watching the bench get so excited for him when he tied (Messier). The fans were really excited for him as well.

"The two points (for the Panthers in the standings) were great. But topping it off with what Jags did -- and Louie (Luongo). I mean, Louie tying Terry Sawchuk for fifth all-time is amazing as well."

More history could be in store on Thursday night. Fans will surely be on "NHL milestones watch" when Jagr, Luongo and the rest of the Florida Panthers (15-13-5) play host to the Boston Bruins (17-14-3).

But there will be something else to monitor that night, and it's the standings. With a win in regulation, the Panthers would tie the Bruins.

The Bruins currently hold the third and final playoff position in the Atlantic Division but are coming off a gruesome 4-2 home loss to the slumping New York Islanders.

Boston outshot New York 50-29 in that game and still lost.

"We got back in the game in the third period," Boston coach Claude Julien told Boston Bruins.com after his team fell behind 3-0. "But it was a little too late."

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was pulled after allowing three goals on just 13 shots.

It remains to be seen if the Bruins will go back to Rask or try backup Anton Khudobin, who stopped all 13 shots he faced on Tuesday.

Either way, Boston will try to shut down on offense that features players such as Jagr and Aleksander Barkov, who has 11 points in his past eight games.

"They are smart players," Buffalo's Sam Reinhart said on Tuesday when asked about linemates Jagr and Barkov. "They use their size. They are always in position. Knowing who you are out against is important against those guys."

The Panthers are glad to be home, where they are 9-5-0 and playing much better than their road record of 6-8-5.

But that may not mean as much on Thursday because the Bruins are a better road team than home squad so far this season. They have the best road record in the Atlantic Division at 9-5-3 but are just 8-9-0 at home.

Bruins right winger David Pastrnak, who is second in the NHL with 19 goals, has missed two straight games after having surgery on his right elbow. He skated Wednesday and could return for Thursday's game. Bruins left winger Frank Vatrano (left foot) is hoping to make his season debut on Thursday. He was injured while running in September, prior to the opening of camp. After a strong rookie season -- eight goals in 39 games -- he was expected to possibly become a top-six forward this season.

Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (torn Achilles tendon) and defenseman Alex Petrovic (broken foot) could return in one month. Panthers center Jonathan Marchessault (groin) has missed three straight games.