‘None of that will matter once the puck drops tonight’: Panthers mindful of success in Boston, but aren’t living in the past

It’s going to be hard to follow up the entertainment value that was seen on Wednesday night in Sunrise. 

Game 2 was about as fun as you can have if you were a neutral, or fan of the home team. 


148 penalty minutes — 12 of those being game misconducts — seven goals, Brandon Montour mocking Brad Marchand with a licking gesture (look up Marchand – Callahan, 2018 playoffs) and, Matthew Tkachuk and David Pastrnak putting forth their best “Doug Glatt” impressions in front of 19,000 plus at Amerant Bank Arena. 


“If you paid money to come to the rink tonight, you got a hell of a night,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said after Game 2.


As for the two superstars fighting, the Panthers boss had a similar opinion.


“They each have their team, they got their brothers in the room,it gets a little spicy out there and they want to go,” Maurice added. “I think it was awesome.” 


Both teams had their respective moments so far in the series. In Game 1, Boston walked over Florida in a 5-1 victory. The Panthers would answer the bell with a 6-1 walloping of the Bruins at home in Game 2.  


Now the series shifts to Boston, with Game 3 on Friday night at the TD Garden.


The last time these two sides met in a playoff game in Boston, it was Florida that ended the Bruins season after Carter Verhaeghe scored the overtime winner in Game 7 last year.


Florida beat Boston in three of the four playoff meetings at the TD Garden in 2023. After Friday’s morning skate ahead of Game 3 Maurice was asked if that success makes them more comfortable going into this year’s series.



“I’m trying to give you a mindful answer about ‘how do you feel coming into this game?’”, Maurice said before answering. “I’m gonna say yes, but it doesn’t matter… We didn’t beat them in the regular season — they beat us five times —  and that had nothing to do with Game 2, it doesn’t matter.”

Maurice continued; “We beat them three times up here last year, none of that will matter once the puck drops tonight.”


The Panthers were 0-0-2 in Boston during the regular season, but like Maurice said, none of that matters in the playoffs. 


As for the game on hand, the Panthers may get back a big piece to their forward core tonight. 



Sam Bennett, who hasn’t played since leaving Game 2 of the first round with an injury (upper-body), took morning skate with the team on Friday and will be a game-time decision, per Maurice.

“He was good this morning, he felt really good,” Maurice said of Bennett. “We’ll get him a nap this afternoon, get him through warmups and make a decision then.”

If Bennett is good to play on Friday, the odd forward out will likely be a member of the fourth-line. The line of Steven Lorentz, Kyle Okposo and Nick Cousins have been great this postseason, so good that they’ve kept Ryan Lomberg and Jonah Gadjovich — both regulars during the season — out of the playoff lineup.


“I’m gonna end up taking a player out of the lineup who doesn’t deserve to come out of the lineup,” Maurice said on Friday in anticipation of a Bennett return. “Sam Bennett’s not watching games, if he’s ready to play, he’s playing.”

Projected Lines (If Bennett doesn’t play)

Tarasenko – Barkov – Reinhart 

Verhaeghe – Lundell – Tkachuk 

Luostarinen – Stenlund – Rodrigues 

Cousins – Lorentz – Okposo


Forsling – Ekblad

Mikkola – Montour

Ekman-Larsson – Kulikov





Sam Bennett skated during line rushes with projected scratches Ryan Lomberg and Jonah Gadjovich today, per Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. 


If Bennett does play, expect centers Anton Lundell and Kevin Stenlund to both slide down a line, while Bennett takes over line 2 with Tkachuk and Verhaeghe. 


Friday’s drop is 7 p.m. ET at the TD Garden in Boston.

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