SUNRISE, Fla. – The Florida Panthers will try to get the Eastern Conference Final back to even when they host the New York Rangers for Game 4 at Amerant Bank Arena on Tuesday.

Trailing 2-1 in the series, it's a chance to clean the slate before heading back to the Big Apple.

“It’s a big game,” Panthers forward Sam Bennett said. “It’s crucial. We know how important this game is. We’re going to be prepared for it. In the playoffs, every game feels like a must-win game. We’re going to just treat it the same as we’ve treated all the other games.”

After shutting out the Rangers 3-0 in Game 1, the Panthers have lost each of the last two games in overtime, including a gut-punch defeat in Game 3 after an inspired comeback.

Entering the third period trailing 4-2, Panthers responded with two massive goals from Aleksander Barkov and Gustav Forsling to make it 4-4 and put the Rangers on their heels.

From there, they continued to pepper Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin, but couldn’t find the extra goal they needed before overtime. Arguably their most-dominant stretch of the playoffs, the Panthers led 21-4 in scoring chances in the third period.

Despite carrying that momentum into overtime, the Panthers unfortunately couldn’t finish the job and secure the win they clearly deserved. At 5:35 of the extra frame, Alex Wennberg got to the net and deflected in a shot from Ryan Lindgren to give the Rangers the 5-4 victory.

Overall, the Panthers finished with a staggering 108-43 advantage in shot attempts.

But even without getting the end result, they found reasons to be confident in defeat.

“It’s playoffs,” Bennett said. “There’s going to be big swings, just from one play, one goal. That’s what playoffs is like. You’ve just got to be able to control your emotions and work on the parts of the game we need to work on. We went over it [on Monday]. Take the good stuff. We did a lot of good things [last game]. You’ve just got to go through it day by day.”

Part of that “good stuff” has to be special teams.

Over the last two games, the Panthers have scored three power-play goals – including a pair of them from Sam Reinhart in Game 3 – and gone a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.

“I think we’ve been focusing on what we’ve been doing whole playoffs and whole season,” Panthers defenseman Niko Mikkola said of the penalty kill, which is 8-for-8 in the series. “We pressure hard when we can, take the lanes away. I think it’s been pretty good so far.”

Looking at the power play, simplicity has paid off.

“I feel like we’re playing with a 5-on-5 mindset,” Panthers forward Vladimir Tarasenko said of the team’s uptick in production with the extra attacker. “Pressure them hard on loose pucks and take what is give. Sometimes it’s not a nice set play, it’s just to get to the net.”

Carter Verhaeghe leads the Panthers in the series with five points and is tied with Reinhart for the most goals with two. Matthew Tkachuk, who had two assists in Game 3, is second with four points and has produced multiple points in two of three games in the series thus far.

Led by their big guns, six different players have multiple points in the series for Florida.

Building off some of the adjustments that helped spark their third-period comeback in Game 3, the Panthers are expected to start tonight’s contest with those new-look lines.

Verhaeghe will stick with Reinhart and Barkov on the top line, while Evan Rodrigues moves up to join Bennett and Tkachuk on the second. On the third, Anton Lundell will center Eetu Luostarinen and Tarasenko, who shifts down from the first.

On the fourth, Kevin Stenlund could have two new wingers as Steven Lorentz and Kyle Okposo look like they could be getting back into the lineup based on how the lines looked this morning. Both players last suited up in Game 5 against the Boston Bruins in Round 2.

"I'm not looking for something new,” said Panthers head coach Paul Maurice, who said there's a chance one or both players could be back. “I'm not looking for answers. I'm just making an adjustment on what I saw. I'll do it again if it happens tonight.”

At the other end of the ice, it’s been primarily the role players providing the heroics for the Rangers. Of their seven goals in the series, five have come from either Barclay Goodrow (3) and Alexis Lafrenière (2). Wennberg (1) and Vincent Trocheck (1) are the only other scorers.

In net, Sergei Bobrovsky and Shesterkin are expected to duel again.

“We work really hard, and that has to stay. Maybe even get it to the next level” Barkov said of the keys to evening the series. “It’s all about that. All we can handle is ourselves. All we can manage is how we play. It’s all about us.”


Goals: Verhaeghe (8)

Assists: Tkachuk (13)

Points: Tkachuk (18)

Hits: Ekblad (45)

Blocks: Montour (25)


Goals: Kreider, Trocheck (7)

Assists: Zibanejad, Trocheck (11)

Points: Trocheck (18)

Hits: Trouba (48)

Blocks: Trouba (63)


“We definitely have to get more pucks on net. They’ve done a great job of blocking a lot of the pucks. We can still do a better job of getting more traffic to the net, more bodies to the net. Then it’s just a matter of bearing down on opportunities after that.” – Sam Bennett

“You know what kind of goalie he (Igor Shesterkin) is. For good goalies, you have to create traffic, make their life harder and just get pucks to the net. Sometimes a clean shot doesn’t go in. That’s why you need to have people in front of him.” – Vladimir Tarasenko

“A couple tight losses, but it’s a new day, new game, new opportunity to execute. We’re excited.” – Niko Mikkola

“The power play is huge. Any time we get some momentum and get a couple on the power play, it’s a big part of the game. Last game, getting two power-play goals was huge.” – Carter Verhaeghe

“We’re excited about it. We’re excited about the challenge. We know our game plan, we know how we need to do, so we just need to go out and execute.” – Aleksander Barkov


- Matthew Tkachuk leads Florida with seven multi-point games in this year’s playoffs.

- The Panthers rank second in the playoffs with 12 power-play goals.

- The Panthers have recorded at least 30 hits in every game of this year’s playoffs.

- The Panthers have outscored the opposition 24-18 at home in this year’s playoffs.

- The Panthers are operating at 96.3% on the penalty kill over the last nine games.



Carter Verhaeghe – Aleksander Barkov – Sam Reinhart

Matthew Tkachuk – Sam Bennett – Evan Rodrigues

Eetu Luostarinen – Anton Lundell – Vladimir Tarasenko

Steven Lorentz – Kevin Stenlund – Kyle Okposo


Gustav Forsling – Aaron Ekblad

Niko Mikkola – Brandon Montour

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Dmitry Kulikov


Sergei Bobrovsky

Anthony Stolarz


- May 6: F Patrick Giles recalled from Charlotte (AHL)


When: Tuesday, May 28 at 8 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 Channel 220 / App & Streaming 932; Panthers App

Tickets: Here