Florida Panthers making lineup changes ahead of Game 4 vs. New York Rangers

Paul Maurice has a penchant for mixing up his forward lines when looking for a spark.

The Florida Panthers’ coach did just that in the Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers, blending his top three lines in the third period. It worked to a point, with the Panthers scoring a pair of goals to tie the game before falling in overtime.

Maurice liked enough of what he saw that he is keeping those rearranged lines as they are for Game 4 on Tuesday.

But that’s not all.

It looks as if Maurice is also once again swapping out the wingers on the fourth line based on line rushes during morning skate, bringing in Steven Lorentz and Kyle Okposo to replace Ryan Lomberg and Nick Cousins.

Both Lorentz and Okposo have been healthy scratches the past four games, dating back to Game 6 of the second round against the Boston Bruins. Maurice has flipped the wingers on that line, which Kevin Stenlund centers, depending on the matchup or if he feels he needs a spark.

“It’s not as drastic a change may as you think,” Maurice said. “When we make changes like that ... it’s not the tipping point and it’s not the thing to put your team over the edge, [but] the energy and that excitement sometimes when you put the new players in, they get pretty fired up and give you a good boost.”

As for the rest of the forward lines, they are a change from what the Panthers have normally gone with.

Aleksander Barkov is now centering Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Reinhart.

Sam Bennett is now centering Matthew Tkachuk and Evan Rodrigues.

And Anton Lundell is now centering Eetu Luostarinen and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Maurice mixed the lines up to that configuration in the third period of Game 3 on Sunday. The Panthers went on to score twice in that period to tie the game and force overtime. Florida had a 41-11 edge in shot attempts over the Rangers in that period — 54-18 if including overtime.

“Just a different look with certain players,” Maurice said postgame Sunday. “I thought we’d find the guys that are going partway through the game. Sometimes, you’ve got to throw them together. We’ve flipped Verhaeghe with Barkov over the past two years. That kind of continues. We were just looking for a little more speed on that line. We had some guys that were going; just wanted to give them a better chance to get them open when we could.”

The Panthers trail the best-of-7 series 2-1 entering Game 4 after losing both Games 2 and 3 in overtime.