The latest Sam Bennett status update. And why Florida’s power play has struggled vs Boston

Sam Bennett once again will be out of the lineup when the Florida Panthers play Game 2 of their best-of-7 second-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday

But coach Paul Maurice has reiterated multiple times over the past few days that the team’s second-line center is close to getting back into game action.

“I expect him on the road trip,” Maurice said after the team’s morning skate Tuesday, meaning Bennett could return in Game 3 on Friday or Game 4 on Sunday in Boston.

Bennett hasn’t played since Game 2 of the Panthers’ opening-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning due to a hand/wrist injury after being hit by a slapshot from teammate Brandon Montour.

After taking time off to let the swelling in his hand reduce, Bennett had been on the ice for three consecutive days of practice before taking Wednesday off.

“He’s closing in,” Maurice said Tuesday. “He’s close.”

When he returns, Bennett will provide an extra boost of grit and physicality to Florida’s forward group.

During the Panthers’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, Bennett put up 15 points in 20 playoff games. He had a goal and an assist in Game 2 against Tampa Bay before the injury.

“He goes into the hard areas,’’ Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said. “This time of year is always one where he steps up. It is those heavy games that he thrives in and does not shy away from.’’

With Bennett still out, Florida’s forward lines will remain the same as they were in Game 1 against Boston:

Carter Verhaeghe-Aleksander Barkov-Matthew Tkachuk

Eetu Luostarinen-Anton Lundell-Sam Reinhart

Evan Rodrigues-Kevin Stenlund-Vladimir Tarasenko

Nick Cousins-Steven Lorentz-Kyle Okposo

Can Panthers turn power play around?

In five games against the Bruins this season — the four in the regular season plus Game 1 on Monday — the Panthers have gone a combined 0 for 14 on the power play, with Boston goaltenders turning aside all 30 shots Florida has put on net while playing with a man advantage.

In Game 1, the Panthers went 0 for 3 on the power play.

“They’re a very good [penalty-killing] team, especially in the playoffs,” Tkachuk said. “We had a couple looks but probably just too slow. ... It’s something we’ve got to figure out.”

Boston, which had the seventh-best penalty kill in the NHL during the regular season (82.5 percent success rate), challenged Florida in the neutral zone on the first two opportunities, making it difficult for the Panthers to get effective entries into the offensive zone and thus limiting their ability to produce effective scoring chances.

The result: Two total shots on goal on those two opportunities.

Florida had better looks the third time around early in the third period, getting four shots on Jeremy Swayman, who stopped them all.

“They’re obviously solid,” Reinhart said. “That’s a strength of theirs. I think just being a little more assertive, a little bit quicker … not needing to be looking for the perfect play all the time. I think the more you can create around the net, the more plays you open up for us.”