SUNRISE, Fla. – It’s right there, so why not go for it?

With first place in the Atlantic Division still up for grabs, the Florida Panthers will wrap up their regular season with a battle against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday.

"It's something we're absolutely going to go for,” Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling said.

Entering a decisive Game 82, the Panthers (51-24-6, 108 points) trail the Boston Bruins (47-19-15, 109 points) by just one point for first place in the division. Since they hold the tiebreaker, they need to either overtake or finish tied with Boston to claim the crown in the Atlantic.

Based on the standings, the winner of the division will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs, while the team that finishes second will draw the Maple Leafs.

On the second half of a back-to-back, the Bruins host the Ottawa Senators tonight.

“We’ll play to win,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said. “If there’s something on the line for our team, we’ll dress everybody that’s healthy and ready to go, which I like. Not a fan of sitting guys out. Then you’re a week between games and I’m not a big fan of that.”

Feeling good about their game heading into the playoffs, the Panthers have won four of their last five games, including a 3-2 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

Sam Reinhart scored his team-leading 55th goal of the season at 3:58 of overtime to lock in the win, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves to earn his 36th win of 2023-24.

Also getting in on the scoring, Kevin Stenlund netted his second shorthanded goal of the season and Anton Lundell lit the lamp for the fourth time his last six games. As a team, the Panthers held the Sabres to just 11 scoring chances and 27 shot attempts at 5-on-5, per NaturalStatTrick.com.

Over their last five games, the Panthers have surrendered just four goals.

“I think we feel pretty comfortable right now,” Panthers forward Eetu Luostarinen said of the team’s play heading into Game 82. “I think everyone is dialed in and excited for playoffs.”

Out since April 1 with an upper-body injury, Carter Verhaeghe will return to the lineup for the Panthers tonight, giving the sniper a nice tune-up before the playoffs. Up to his usual tricks, he ranks second on the team in goals (33) and fourth in points (71) this season.

On the blue line, Aaron Ekblad and Oliver Ekman-Larsson will remain out of action, but both D-men will be ready to go for Game 1. In terms of lineup changes, Jonah Gadjovich will get back into the fray on the fourth line, while Josh Mahura will come in for Ekman-Larsson.

Anthony Stolarz will get the nod in net with a chance to end his breakout campaign on a high note. In 26 appearances this season, the 30-year-old veteran backup has posted a 15-7-2 record with a 2.03 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and two shutouts.

“I would imagine he feels that faith that we have in him, but I would think that he felt that long before,” Maurice said of Stolarz, who’s wrapping up his first season in South Florida “He’s certainly earned it. Not just on the numbers. You’ve seen the games he’s played. I don’t know much about goaltending, but what I do see is a maturation in his game.”

Locked into third place in the Atlantic, the Maple Leafs (46-24-10, 102 points) have lost their last two games. Following a 6-5 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, they erased a three-goal deficit only to lose 5-4 in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

Trying to become the ninth different player in NHL history to hit the 70-goal mark, all eyes will be on Auston Matthews in tonight’s tilt. The last time a 70-goal season occurred was all the way back in 1992-93, with Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny each netting 76 goals.

If he hits 70, Matthews will become the first American-born player to do so.

While the Panthers appreciate the history, they hope it won’t come at their expense.

“We just want it not to be tonight,” Maurice said. “We’ll focus on their elite players the same way we would every other game. Hopefully he can get it tomorrow [at Tampa Bay].”

Matthews also leads the Maple Leafs in scoring with 107 points. After him, William Nylander, who’s trying to post the first 100-point season of his career, is second with 97 points (40 goals, 57 assists). Mitch Marner is third with 84 points (26 goals, 58 assists).

Missing a few regulars, forwards Bobby McCann, Max Domi and Calle Jarnkrok are all expected to sit out against the Panthers, while defenseman Joel Edmundson is day to day.

Joseph Woll will be between the pipes for Toronto, making his first start since April 9. In 24 appearances this season, he’s gone 12-10-1 with a 2.88 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.

Meeting for the fourth time this season, the Panthers have earned a point in two of three prior matchups with the Maple Leafs.

If the Bruins manage to hold on to first place in the Atlantic, tonight’s contest will serve as somewhat of a jumping off point for a first-round battle between Florida and Toronto.

With that, both teams likely want to show what they can do.

“We want to play our game and keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Forsling said.


"He's the first guy that called me when I got picked up. It's exciting. ... He's done an unbelievable job here. You see our team over the last 4 years here. I think he's doing something real good here. ... He's got a plan, for sure." – Gustav Forsling on Bill Zito’s contract extension

“It’s been a long season again, but it’s been fun. But the fun part actually begins now. Everyone is really excited.” – Eetu Luostarinen on getting ready for the playoffs

"I think every year he makes a pretty good case for that. He's playing hard every night and playing both sides of the puck. For sure, he's the winner in my book." – Gustav Forsling on Aleksander Barkov’s bid for a second Selke Trophy


- Sam Reinhart leads the Panthers with 11 multi-goal games.

- Matthew Tkachuk has recorded a team-high 272 shots on goal.

- Gustav Forsling boasts an NHL-leading +52 plus/minus rating.

- Niko Mikkola leads the Panthers in hits (196) and blocks (124).

- Florida’s 54.37 xGF% ranks fourth in the NHL.



Vladimir Tarasenko – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe – Sam Bennett – Matthew Tkachuk

Eetu Luostarinen – Anton Lundell – Evan Rodrigues

Jonah Gadjovich – Kevin Stenlund – Nick Cousins


Gustav Forsling – Brandon Montour

Niko Mikkola – Dmitry Kulikov

Josh Mahura – Uvis Balinskis


Anthony Stolarz

Sergei Bobrovsky


- April 12: F Wilmer Skoog signed to a one-year, two-way contract commencing in 2024-25

- April 12: F Oliver Okuliar signed to a one-year ELC commencing in 2024-25

- April 10: D Mikulas Hovorka signed to a two-year ELC commencing in 2024-25


When: Tuesday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: Amerant Bank Arena – Sunrise, FL

TV & Streaming: ESPN, ESPN+

Radio: 560 WQAM (Dade/Broward); 92.1 WZZR (Palm Beach); 100.3 WCTH (Florida Keys); 101.7 WCZR (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM App & Streaming 932; Panthers App

Tickets: Click Here