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Panthers’ Sam Bennett out ‘at least a week’ after taking shot off his hand in Game 2 vs. Lightning

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Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett will be out for “at least a week,” according to head coach Paul Maurice. Bennett took a shot of his hand in the Panthers’ Game 2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and did not return.

In the second period, Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour fired a slap shot that hit Bennet directly in his left hand. Bennett immediately left the game and went down the tunnel in the locker room.

During his press conference on Wednesday, Maurice announced that Bennett’s injury will force him to miss one week, at a minimum. That means the Panthers’ second-line center will be out for at least the next three games of the first round.

Losing Bennett, who centers Matthew Tkachuk’s line, is a tough blow to Florida’s center depth behind Aleksander Barkov. Before exiting Game 2, Bennett had already registered a goal and an assist. In the regular season, Bennett recorded 20 goals and 21 assists in 69 games.

If there is some good news for the Panthers, it’s that Bennett’s replacement immediately made a huge impact on the game and the series. With Bennett out, Anton Lundell moved up in the lineup and took his place between Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe and that line won Game 2 for Florida.

In overtime, Lundell assisted on Verhaeghe’s game-winning goal, which gave the Panthers a 2-0 series lead as the first-round matchup shifts to Tampa for Games 3 and 4.

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