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Panthers, Bruins Battle With Shot at Clinching Playoff Spot on Line

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The Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins will battle it out to become one of the first teams to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. // Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins are meeting in a battle of Atlantic Division powerhouses with a lot on the line.

For one, the winner would take sole possession of first place in the division.

Both teams are tied for first place in the Atlantic with 97 points but Florida has the upper hand with one more game left on its schedule.

Tuesday night marks one of two games remaining between the Panthers and Bruins which could help swing things in either direction.

Boston coach Jim Montgomery has been hyping his team up all year for this one because he knows it is going to be big.

The Panthers knocked his Bruins out of the playoffs in 7 last year and the heat has been turned on between these two ever since.

Maurice knows that, too.

“I think it gets more fun, as you get older,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “There are some games on your schedule that you have to drink a certain amount of coffee to get up for and that’s just true. Right? But you’d bet both coaches would be wired up for this one because it’s going to be fun.

“The decisions you make matter, you feel like you’re part of the game a little bit. It’ll make it not one of 82, we haven’t beat them yet this year, and we haven’t beat them much last year, but two defensemen were out for a bit, then [Sasha Barkov] didn’t play in game two, but everybody wants to start flexing a bit before the playoff, maybe just for your own bench, to feel good about your own bench. But it’s a bigger game.

“The team that wins will make it feel like it’s a much bigger game and if you lose, it’s not that big of a deal.”

The Panthers will be going into this one healthier than the previous two matchups, with Barkov returning from a lower-body injury and Gus Forsling returning from an illness, but will still be missing Aaron Ekblad.

Regardless, there is still more at stake for both sides on Tuesday night.

Namely, a punched ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The winner of the game will have a chance to clinch a playoff spot on Tuesday if the Detroit Red Wings lose to the Washington Capitals in regulation.

Florida is also able to clinch with a win and a Red Wings overtime loss or a New York Rangers regulation win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

In addition, they could clinch if they lose in overtime or a shootout and Detroit loses in regulation.

For Boston, the only way they could get in is with the aforementioned win and Red Wings regulation loss.

The winner would be one of the first few teams — including the Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, who could also clinch tonight — to officially punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“These are the ones you want at this time of the year,” Sam Reinhart said. “You want something on the line, you want something to play for. Both teams have the same goal in mind, so this is a good step.”

The starting goalies: Jeremy Swayman and Sergei Bobrovsky.

ON DECK

BOSTON BRUINS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
  • 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
  • Local Odds — Panthers Favored: Money Line (-135); Puck line (-1.5, +175); Over/Under 5.5 (-135/+110)
  • Last Season — Regular Season: Tied 2-2; Playoffs: Florida won 4-3 (first-round)
  • This season (Bruins Lead 2-0) — At Boston: Bruins 3, Panthers 2 OT (Oct.30); April 6. At Florida: Bruins 3, Panthers 1 (Nov. 22); Tuesday.
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 62-37-7, 6 ties
  • All-time Postseason Series: Florida leads 2-0 (1996, 2023)
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday vs. NY Islanders, 7 p.m.

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS (46-20-5) LINEUP

17 Evan Rodrigues // 16 Sasha Barkov // 10 Vladimir Tarasenko

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

27 Eetu Luostarinen //15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart

21 Nick Cousins // 82 Kevin Stenlund // 18 Steven Lorentz

42 Gus Forsling // 62 Brandon Montour

77 Niko Mikkola// 26 Uvis Balinskis

91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 7 Dmitry Kulikov

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

41 Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Jonah Gadjovich, Tobias Bjornfot, Kyle Okposo, Ryan Lomberg, Josh Mahura

Injured: Aaron Ekblad (lower body)

PROJECTED BOSTON BRUINS (41-16-15) LINEUP

63 Brad Marchand // 13 Charlie Coyle // 74 Jake DeBrusk

43 Danton Heinen //18 Pavel Zacha // 88 David Pastrnak

94 Jakub Lauko // 39 Morgan Geekie // 11 Trent Frederic

19 John Beecher // 70 Jesper Boqvist // 70 Justin Brazeau

48 Matt Grzelcyk // 73 Charlie McAvoy

27 Hampus Lindholm // 25 Brandon Carlo

29 Parker Wotherspoon // 52 Andrew Peeke

1 Jeremy Swayman

35 Linus Ullmark

Scratched: Mason Lohrei, Kevin Shattenkirk, James van Riemsdyk

Injured: None

Boston Bruins Lines Courtesy NHL.com

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