Tuesday, April 16, 2024 07:30 PM (ET)

Dominant 2nd gives Panthers win, division title

Field Level Media
Apr 16, 2024

The Florida Panthers -- thanks to one of the most dominant periods in the NHL this season -- rallied to defeat the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Tuesday night in Sunrise, Fla.

Florida (52-24-6, 110 points) jumped the Boston Bruins in the standings to win the Atlantic Division title. The Bruins lost to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

That means Florida's first-round playoff matchup will be against the Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of the first wild card. Third-place Toronto (46-25-10, 102 points) will play Boston.

The Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews, who is trying to become just the ninth 70-goal scorer in NHL history, did not score. He is expected to get one more shot on Wednesday when Toronto plays its regular-season finale at Tampa Bay.

On Tuesday, Matthews had several near scores before his eight-game goal streak was snapped.

Florida, which trailed 2-0 after the first period, scored four times in the second, putting 29 shots on goal. Toronto, meanwhile, had just four shots on goal in the period.

The Panthers got goals from Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Brandon Montour in that second period.

Reinhart added an empty-net goal, giving him 57 tallies for the season -- second in the league to Matthews.

Verhaeghe, after a six-game injury absence, scored his 34th goal, which is second on the team.

Mitch Marner and Noah Gregor scored for Toronto.

Florida's Anthony Stolarz (24 saves) beat Joseph Woll (37 saves) in a battle between backup goalies.

Toronto, which had a 14-6 advantage on shots on net in the first period, opened the scoring just 3:25 into the game.

After Gustav Forsling was called for cross-checking Tyler Bertuzzi, Marner's shot from above the right circle handcuffed Stolarz glove-side.

The Leafs made it 2-0 on Gregor's first goal in 34 games. Shooting from the same spot as Marner, Gregor's shot went in with the help of Pontus Holmberg's screen.

Florida's second-period barrage started just 28 seconds in on Verhaeghe's rebound off his own shot.

The Panthers tied the score 10 minutes later. Forsling played Matthew Tkachuk's cross-ice pass off the boards. Forsling's shot was then tipped in by Bennett, who was in motion.

Ten seconds later, the Panthers took a 3-2 lead on Reinhart's rebound off Aleksander Barkov's drive to the net.

Montour capped the onslaught with his knuckling drive from the point. That capped a 26-second Panthers possession that featured four shots on goal.

Reinhart's empty-netter came with 2:20 left.

--Field Level Media

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