MONTREAL – The Florida Panthers want to start how they ended their last game.

Despite having their late rally fall short in the first half of their back-to-back, the Panthers will look to carry some momentum from a strong third period in Toronto on Monday into the first period of their matchup against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Trailing the Maple Leafs 5-1 entering the third period after some uncharacteristic mistakes in the first 40 minutes, the Panthers scored three straight goals to briefly make it a one-goal game before Auston Matthews locked in the win for the home team with an empty-netter.

Over the final 20 minutes, Florida led 18-3 in scoring chances.

“It’s good that we get to play right away, wash that game [away],” said Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour, who scored the first goal for the Panthers in Toronto. “They can celebrate that one. We’ll just take what we need to fix and carry it into tomorrow.”

With seven games remaining in the regular season, the Panthers (47-23-5), who’ve already punched their ticket to the playoffs, trail the Boston Bruins (43-17-15) by just two points for first place in the Atlantic Division with one head-to-head matchup remaining on Saturday.

Even though they aren’t playing the same must-win games that they had to endure late last season just to make the playoffs, the Panthers want everyone to know they’re still hungry.

“I think we’re still hunters,” Montour said. “Nice to get that ‘X’ next to our name earlier than last year, but we know how to play playoff hockey and we’re trying to get our game right.”

With Sergei Bobrovsky manning the crease for two periods in Toronto, backup Anthony Stolarz, who played the third against the Maple Leafs, could potentially get the start in Montreal.

Outstanding during his first season with the Panthers, the 30-year-old veteran goaltender boasts a 14-6-2 record with a 1.99 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.

The best road goalie in the NHL, Stolarz owns a .939 save percentage away from home.

While full lineup information won’t be known until Panthers head coach Paul Maurice’s pre-game media availability, there’s a chance that high-scoring forward Carter Verhaeghe will be unavailable against the Canadiens after suffering an undisclosed injury in Toronto.

“We’ll say day-to-day,” Maurice said of the injury post-game.

Despite having more lottery ping-pong balls than playoff games to look forward to, the Canadiens remain a dangerous squad with a young core hungry to take down a top team.

Prior to being shut out 3-0 by the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, they’d won three straight games over the Seattle Kraken, Colorado Avalanche and Philadelphia Flyers.

Against those teams – two of them in playoff spots – they gave up three total goals.

Touching twine in every game during that three-game streak, Nick Suzuki leads the Canadiens in goals (30) and points (69). Cole Caufield sits second in points (55), while Mike Matheson, who played for the Panthers from 2015-2020, is third in points (51) and first in assists (41).

Sam Montembeault, another player that used to suit up in South Florida, has quickly become the No. 1 option in net for the Canadiens. Appearing in 36 games, he’s posted a 14-14-7 record with a .905 save percentage. Backing him up, Cayden Primeau is 8-7-2.

Meeting for the fourth and final time this season, the Panthers have come out on top in all three previous matchups, winning by a combined score of 12-5. In those games, five different Panthers have scored multiple goals, while 12 have recorded at least a point.

In their last head-to-head battle, Sam Reinhart (two goals, one assist) and Aleksander Barkov (one goal, two assists) each tallied three points in a 4-3 shootout win on Feb. 29 in Sunrise. In net, Stolarz made 28 saves in regulation and overtime and two in the shootout.

Barkov and Verhaeghe are tied for the team-lead with five points each in the season series.


“They got a 5-1 lead and it’s tough to keep momentum on that. We threw a few pucks at the net and got a little action going. I don’t think we got a whole lot better in the third. We got a bit better. That’s about it.” – Paul Maurice on the loss to Toronto

“It’s nice to score goals and make passes, but when the team loses you’re not experiencing happiness. The main thing is to start earlier, start the game right away and push for 60 minutes.” – Vladimir Tarasenko on his three-point performance against the Maple Leafs


- Aleksander Barkov has tallied 46 points (24G, 22A) in 34 career games vs. Montreal.

- Florida owns a 25-10-3 record on the road.

- Kevin Stenlund is expected to play in his 200th career NHL game tonight.

- The Panthers rank second in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.48).

- Sam Reinhart has produced eight points (4G, 4A) over his last six games.


Check back closer to puck drop.


- April 2: G Cooper Black agreed to terms on a 2-year ELC commencing in 2024-25.

- March 27: D Uvis Balinskis loaned to Charlotte (AHL)

- March 25: F Ben Steeves agreed to terms on a 2-year ELC commencing in 2024-25


When: Tuesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Bell Centre – Montreal, QC

TV & Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports+

Radio: 790 WAXY (Dade/Broward); 92.1 WZZR (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 101.7 WCZR (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM App & Streaming 932; Panthers App

Watch Party: Tin Roof in Fort Lauderdale

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