Panthers F Carter Verhaeghe back for regular-season finale

Sam Reinhart slots in OT winner for Panthers (0:39)

Sam Reinhart scores his 55th goal of the season as the Panthers fend off the Sabres in overtime. (0:39)

Pursuing the Atlantic Division title, the Florida Panthers received an unexpected boost with the return of forward Carter Verhaeghe for Tuesday night's regular-season finale against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.

Verhaeghe, 28, wasn'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 entered Tuesday one point behind the first-place Boston Bruins, who close out their regular season Tuesday at home against the Ottawa Senators.

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. Toronto selected him in the third round of the 2013 draft.

While head coach Paul Maurice confirmed that Verhaeghe is returning, he said defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (upper body) will 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. The Coyotes selected him sixth overall in the 2009 draft.