With 5:15 to go in Sunday’s 3-0 win over the Panthers in a matinee at the Garden, the Bruins’ playoff hopes were seemingly doubled over in front of the Florida bench. Boston captain Zdeno Chara was down, and remained down for quite a while, before straightening up under his own power and making his way to the penalty box.

“The last thing you need,’’ said coach Claude Julien, able to exhale as he finally saw Big Z scoot across ice to the sin bin, “is those kinds of injuries and those kinds of penalties. So maybe we dodged a bullet, but those are the things you fear at this time of year — you don’t want those unnecessary injuries to happen.’’

Chara, after serving the two-minute interference call (he got tangled up with Jonathan Huberdeau), skated directly to the Boston bench and soon took a shift, showing no effects from the collision.

“It was my knee or leg,’’ said Chara, sounding nonplussed though noting that he needed the extra time to straighten up. “Yeah, it took me a couple of seconds there. But, you know, it’s OK. It was kind of a stretching feeling that I felt.’’

With Nathan Horton and Adam McQuaid already injured, Boston’s overall game would be challenged greatly if Chara were dinged and out of duty. He once again led the ice time charts Sunday with 23:26 and finished plus-2 with two shots on net. He paired with rookie Dougie Hamilton, who was back in the lineup after being scratched (coach’s decision) Saturday.

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