BOSTON -- Sam Bennett is back!

Sidelined by an upper-body injury since Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs, the grizzled center will be back in the lineup for the Florida Panthers when they battle the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the second round at TD Garden on Friday.

Following this morning's skate, Bennett was considered a game-time decision.

“He was good this morning,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said. “He felt really good. We'll get him a nap this afternoon, get him through the warmup and then make a decision.”

Clearly, the nap went well.

Back in his usual spot during pre-game line rushes, Bennett will center the second line in between Carter Verhaeghe and Matthew Tkachuk against the Bruins. With Bennett coming back in, Anton Lundell has shifted back down to the third line to center Eetu Luostarinen and Evan Rodrigues, while Kevin Stenlund is on the fourth with Steven Lorentz and Kyle Okposo.

Nick Cousins will be a healthy scratch.

"I’m going to end up taking a player out of the lineup that doesn’t deserve to come out of the lineup, but Sam Bennett’s not watching games," Maurice said of the difficult decision this morning. "If he’s ready to play, he’s playing. It’s going to be tough.”

Prior to his injury, Bennett had recorded a goal and an assist in two playoff games.

During last year's run to the Stanley Cup Final, he posted 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 20 playoff games.

With Bennett back in action, the full lineup for tonight's matchup in Boston is as follows:


Vladimir Tarasenko – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe – Sam Bennett – Matthew Tkachuk

Eetu Luostarinen – Anton Lundell – Evan Rodrigues

Steven Lorentz – Kevin Stenlund – Kyle Okposo


Gustav Forsling – Aaron Ekblad

Niko Mikkola – Brandon Montour

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Dmitry Kulikov


Sergei Bobrovsky

Anthony Stolarz