The Florida Panthers will have one of their top players back in the lineup for Game 2 against the Boston Bruins tonight as Sam Bennett returns after being out the past month.
Bennett is believed to have been out due to a groin injury which has affected him for big chunks of the second half of the regular season.
He was originally injured Feb. 14 in St. Louis and missed the following six games. Bennett returned to the lineup on March 4 and played seven more games before getting hurt again March 20 in Detroit.
Bennett had been skating on his own but was on the ice Wednesday for morning skate without the yellow no-contact garb.
Coach Paul Maurice announced Bennett would indeed return to the lineup per Jameson Olive of FloridaPanthers.com.
”Benny is in or we would have had him in the gold,’’ Maurice said referring to the team’s yellow no-contact jersey. “It is a real challenge, or can be, when you lose a centerman. You have to move people around. He is an important piece to our team. He is an energy player, a driver for us. It’s not just the goals, it is the physicality and the heaviness down low.’’
Bennett is expected to return to center the second line with Eetu Luostarinen and Matthew Tkachuk.
Barring anything happening between now and puck drop, Givani Smith will be a healthy scratch to make way for No. 9.
In other lineup news, Florida will have Alex Lyon in net for the 10th consecutive game after he stopped 26 of 29 shots in a 3-1 loss to the Bruins in Game 1.
Maurice was very complimentary of Lyon’s performance on Tuesday and there was little doubt which way he was leaning.
“I thought he was fantastic,’’ Maurice said on Tuesday. “Those three Grade-A chances, he stopped all of them. They did not miss. He made saves on all of them. I loved his game.”
The Boston Bruins will again be without captain and five-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron as he is dealing with an undisclosed injury.
“He’s progressing well,’’ coach Jim Montgomery said per Boston Hockey Now. “He’s day-by-day, but he’s a no for tonight.’’
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 2 (Bruins lead Best-of-7 Series 1-0)
- When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: T.D. Garden
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN/ESPN+
- Radio: WAXY 790-AM/WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Regular Season Series (Tied 2-2): @Boston 5, Florida 3 (Oct. 17); @Florida 5, Boston 2 (Nov. 23); @Boston 7, Florida 3 (Dec. 19); @Florida 4, Boston 3 OT (Jan. 28)
- Last Season: Boston won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-38-6, 6 ties
- Playoff History (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4-1, 1996 (first round)
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: Boston 3, Florida 1; Game 2: at Boston, Wednesday, ame 3: at Florida, Friday, 7:30 (TNT); Game 4: at Florida, Sunday, April 23, 3:30 (TNT); Game 5*: at Boston, Wednesday, April 26; Game 6*: at Florida, Friday, April 28; Game 7*: at Boston, Sunday, April 30.