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Mar 25, 2024 1:08 pm

Panthers, Bruins set to spar atop Atlantic Division

Sam Reinhart

The Florida Panthers, led by newly minted 50-goal scorer Sam Reinhart, will host the Boston Bruins on Tuesday at Sunrise, Fla.

Reinhart reached No. 50 on Sunday as he scored twice in a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

In the Panthers’ 30 seasons in the NHL, their only other 50-goal scorer was Pavel Bure, who did it twice. Bure’s franchise record of 59 goals was set in 2000-01.

“It’s a number I never thought about,” said Reinhart, whose previous high was 33 goals in 2021-22.

“I think it’s about being put in good positions and playing with very good players.”

Panthers backup goalie Anthony Stolarz said Reinhart is a great person and a great player.

“He’s a two-way guy, playing up and down the ice,” Stolarz said. “For him to hit 50, I’m sure it’s a load off his shoulders.

“I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Panthers coach Paul Maurice said Reinhart is an extra-confident player this season.

“Fifty goals is such a rare thing,” Maurice said. “It puts you in an elite class. Five of his goals are short-handed, and that tells you he’s playing both sides of the puck.

“There are guys who scored 50 who couldn’t find their own end. But Sam is a battler and a team-first guy. We’re so fortunate to have him.”

The Panthers, after snapping their season-high-tying four-game losing streak on Sunday, are set to face a tough Bruins team.

Boston (41-16-15) and Florida (46-20-5) are essentially tied for the lead in the Atlantic Division with 97 points each, although the Panthers have played one less game. The Panthers also have won more games, which would be a key tiebreaker.

The teams have history.

Last season, the Panthers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, a journey that started with a 4-3 first-round series win over the favored Bruins.

This season, the Bruins are 2-0 against the Panthers, beating Florida 3-2 in overtime Oct. 30 and 3-1 on Nov. 22.

The teams haven’t met since, although they are scheduled to play twice in the next two weeks.

In those two wins this season, the Bruins beat goalie Sergei Bobrovsky each time. Bobrovsky (32-15-3, 2.38 goals-against average) is having a standout season. He leads the league in GAA, and tops the Eastern Conference in wins.

Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark (19-8-7, 2.66 GAA) has both wins over Bobrovsky. Jeremy Swayman (22-8-8, 2.57 GAA) is Boston’s other top goalie.

The Bruins have lost two straight games, including a 3-2 road defeat against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

This is the first time Boston has lost two straight games in regulation since Dec. 22-23, but the Bruins are not discouraged.

“The effort was there,” Andrew Peeke said.

Peeke, who has played five games this season, is getting a shot due in part to the injury to fellow defenseman Derek Forbort.

Charlie McAvoy leads Bruins defensemen in goals (nine) and assists (33).

Among forwards, Boston is led by David Pastrnak, who tops the squad in goals (44) and assists (55). He needs one more point to reach 100 for the second straight season.

Brad Marchand (62 points), Charlie Coyle (55 points) and Pavel Zacha (47 points) are Boston’s other top forwards.

–Field Level Media

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