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Cats win Atlantic to set up Battle of Florida, Leafs-Bruins

Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty

The Florida Panthers clinched first place in the Atlantic Division with their victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins' loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.

Florida will face the cross-state rival Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening round, while the second-place Boston Bruins will meet the third-ranked Toronto Maple Leafs in the other divisional matchup.

Shortly before the Panthers clinched the division, the Washington Capitals secured the final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference. They'll face the Presidents' Trophy-winning New York Rangers in Round 1. The Carolina Hurricanes will take on the New York Islanders in the other Metropolitan Division series.

The Atlantic crown is the Panthers' second in three years and fourth in franchise history.

Florida finished this regular season at 52-24-6 for 110 points. The Panthers wrapped up the 82-game slate with one point more than the Bruins and eight points more than the Maple Leafs. The Lightning nabbed the first wild-card spot in the East by finishing fourth in the Atlantic.

The Rangers (114) and Hurricanes (111) end the campaign with more points in the standings than the Panthers.

Florida finished fourth in the Atlantic last season but pulled off a shocking upset of the historically dominant Bruins over seven games in the first round. The Cats went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last spring before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Panthers won the Presidents' Trophy in 2021-22 - the last time they won the division - but the Lightning swept them out of the second round.

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