Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Milan Lucic recorded the game winner late in regulation, as Boston put some more distance between it and Florida thanks to a 3-2 result on Tuesday at TD Garden.
"It's that time of the year that you really have to step up in every aspect of your game," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.
Loui Eriksson and David Pastrnak also tallied for the Bruins, who opened up a six-point margin over Florida (91-85) between the clubs in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Tuukka Rask aided the effort with 22 saves.
Brandon Pirri and Brad Boyes scored in the middle frame for the Panthers, who completed their road trip with a 2-2-1 record.
Roberto Luongo was denied his 400th career win, losing despite 26 stops.
Ryan Spooner's shot from the left-wing boards hit Pastrnak at the near post and eluded Luongo just before the midway point of the third period and knotted the game, 2-2.
Lucic gave the hosts a one-goal edge with 1:09 to play, taking a loose puck in the neutral zone, skating up the middle and scoring with a wrister while encircled by three Panthers players.
David Krejci was booked for holding the stick with 27.6 seconds left and Luongo remained on the bench to create a 6-on-4 advantage. Jimmy Hayes hit the post off a right-circle faceoff win, and Rask needed to make one more save down the stretch to preserve the winning margin.
"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."
Eriksson's backhander at the right post during a 4-on-4 gave the Bruins a lead just shy of three minutes left in the first.
"It's been a while since I've been up there, so for sure, it was nice, especially to score the goal, and win the game," Eriksson said of reaching the 20-score mark for the first time in three seasons, when he played for Dallas.
Pirri rang one off the crossbar and in from the right point to tie the game 55 seconds into the second, then Boyes slipped a shot through the pads of Rask on a rush with 7:23 left for a 2-1 game.
Boston has won three in a row, closing out the month of March with an 8-3-4 record ... Pirri participated in his 100th NHL game ... Prior to the game, the Bruins signed former Miami-Ohio forward Austin Czarnik to an entry-level contract ... The Panthers haven't beaten the Bruins on the road since Dec. 8, 2011, a span of eight meetings.