May 17, 2024

Panthers F Carter Verhaeghe back for regular-season finale

With the return of forth Carter Verhaeghe for Tuesday night’s regular-season finale against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs, the Florida Panthers received an unexpected boost after winning the Atlantic Division title.

Verhaeghe, 28, was n’t expected back until Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after suffering an upper-body injury April 1 against the Maple Leafs.

Florida finished one point clear of the Boston Bruins, who will wrap up their regular time with a game against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

Verhaeghe is Florida’s second-leading goal scorer ( 33 ) and has 38 assists in 75 games this season. In five seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning ( 2019-20 ) and Panthers, he has 248 points ( 126 goals, 122 assists ) in 329 games. In the second round of the 2013 document, Toronto chose him.

While head coach Paul Maurice confirmed that Verhaeghe is returning, he said defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (upper body ) does not play Tuesday.

Ekman-Larsson, 32, last played Saturday and has 32 points ( nine goals, 23 assists ) in 80 games this season, his first with Florida.

In 14 seasons with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes ( 2010-21 ), Vancouver Canucks ( 2021-23 ) and Panthers, Ekman-Larsson has 471 points ( 144 goals, 327 assists ) in 982 games. In the 2009 review, the Coyotes selected him with fifth overall pick.