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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Florida Panthers Lose Top Center in Second Period



Florida panthers
Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett congratulates defenseman Gus Forsling after Forsling scored the game-winning goal during an overtime period against the Capitals on Feb. 24. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers were without center Sam Bennett for a good part of Tuesday’s playoff game against the Lightning.

Bennett, who scored Florida’s first goal and assisted on the second, caught a shot from teammate Brandon Montour early in the second period and left the game.

Bennett dropped his stick after taking the puck off his hand/wrist and skated right off the ice.

He was not on the bench to start the third period; the Panthers announced later that he would not return to the game.

Coach Paul Maurice did not have an immediate update following Florida’s 3-2 overtime win against the Lightning, saying he would be evaluated Wednesday before the Panthers fly to Tampa.

Florida now holds a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series; Game 3 is Thursday night in Tampa.

Bennett scored Florida’s opening goal by backhanding a soft rebound off a shot from Matthew Tkachuk — that Bennett himself set up.

Later in the first period, Bennett was camped out in front of Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, got a loose puck in the slot and fed Vladimir Tarasenko for the power play goal.

Tampa Bay scored early in the second and then got a power-play goal from Steven Stamkos to tie it at 2.

Carter Verhaeghe won it overtime — his fifth OT goal for the Panthers in the past three postseasons.

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa 
  • Local TV/National TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/TBS/HBOMax
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • First Round (Panthers Lead 1-0) — Game 1: Panthers 3, Lightning 2; Game 2: Florida 3, Tampa Bay 2 OT; Game 3:Thursday at Tampa Bay, 7 (BSF, TBS); Game 4: Saturday Ap. 27 at Tampa Bay, 5 (BSF, TBS, TruTV); Game 5*: Monday Ap. 29 at Florida, TBA (BSF, TBA); Game 6*: Wednesday May 1 at Tampa Bay, TBA (BSF, TBA); Game 7*: Saturday May 4 at Florida, TBA (BSF, TBA). (*) — If necessary
  • 2023-24 Regular Season Series (Panthers Won 2-1) — At Tampa Bay: Panthers 3, Lightning 2 (Dec. 27)Panthers 9, Lightning 2 (Feb. 17). At Florida: Lightning 5, Panthers 3 (March 16).
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 77-51-19, 10 ties
  • All-Time Postgame Series: Lightning Leads 2-0 (2021 first-round, 2022 ECS)

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