SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) Sam Bennett and Sam Reinhart scored 10 seconds apart midway through the second period, and the Florida Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Tuesday night.

With the victory and Boston's 3-1 loss to Ottawa, Florida clinched the Atlantic Division title. The Panthers (52-24-6) finished with the season with a four-game win streak to make up a five-point deficit in the standings.

“It's been a crazy year,” Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “I feel like, throughout the whole year, us and Boston were in the driver's seat leading the divison and it's kind of gone back and forth the last few months. ... It means a lot to get home ice because it shows that we had a solid season and I'm glad there's something to show for it.”

Carter Verhaeghe and Brandon Montour also scored for Florida, and Anthony Stolarz made 24 saves.

The Panthers will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening round of the playoffs.

“It's funny how things sometimes work out like that,” Bennett said. “It's a great rivalry, I'm sure the fans will love it and I'm definitely excited for it.”

John Tavares and Noah Gregor scored for the Maple Leafs (46-25-10), and Joseph Woll made 37 stops.

Toronto is locked into the Atlantic Division’s third seed. It will play Boston in the first round of the playoffs.

“It will obviously be a real challenge,” Tavares said. “It's real special to play in that (rivalry). It's Original Six, so there is some special history to it. It'll be a great opportunity for us and a real test and we have to be prepared.”

Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews remains at 69 goals. He will have one more chance to become the first player since 1992-93 to score 70 goals in a season when the Maple Leafs take on the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.

Coach Sheldon Keefe said the team hasn't decided whether Matthews will play or rest ahead of the playoffs.

“We'll talk about it,” Keefe said. “We have 12 healthy forwards.”

Verhaeghe opened the scoring for Florida in his first game since sustaining an upper-body injury that had kept him out of the lineup since April 1.


Maple Leafs: Visit Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

Panthers: Game 1 of the playoffs this weekend.



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