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May 16, 2024 5:10 pm

Bruins on comeback trail against pesky Panthers in Game 6

charlie mcavoy

There still is work to do to complete the difficult task of recovering from a 3-1 series deficit in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but the Boston Bruins can push the series the distance with a Game 6 win on home ice Friday.

The Bruins nearly lost such a deficit of their own against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round, but ultimately won Game 7 in overtime. As for this series, they forced a Game 6 when down 3-1 for the eighth time in franchise history with a 2-1 Tuesday win in Sunrise, Fla.

Could they pull off the comeback that Florida made against them in the first round a year ago? There certainly is no lack of confidence in the locker room.

“I think we’re only getting better,” Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy said. “We have that belief and certainly the confidence in our group, in each other and in ourselves to do the job.”

According to Bruins coach Jim Montgomery, captain Brad Marchand still has “boxes to check” in his recovery from an upper-body injury that sidelined him for the past two games. He remains day-to-day.

Following Thursday’s practice, though, Marchand — who has 10 points in 10 playoff games — expressed his hope to play.

“We’ll see how (Friday morning) goes, but hopefully (I’ll play),” he said. “It’s very tough to watch this time of year. It was great to get back out there (at practice) and be around the energy and emotion.”

Though Montgomery also believes that his team has gotten better throughout the series, the impact of a Marchand return would be immeasurable.

“He’s our leader, he’s our captain, he’s our heart and soul,” Montgomery said. “How can you put a number on that?”

Boston goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who has started 11 of 12 playoff games, has a 0.98 GAA in two elimination game wins during this run.

The Panthers are hoping that they can bounce back from a mere bump in the road on Tuesday after having played long stretches of dominant hockey up to this point.

“You play a seven-game series for a reason,” Florida center Sam Reinhart said. “It’s not always going to go your way. You try to learn from it. There’s some things we can do a little bit better. We’re going to recover and we’re going to come back.”

Reinhart scored Florida’s lone goal in Game 5. His five goals are one shy of Carter Verhaeghe for the team’s playoff lead.

Boston was held below the 20-shot mark in Games 2-4 consecutively, but the Bruins allowed just three 5-on-5 goals across Games 3 and 4.

Sergei Bobrovsky faced 31 shots between those games, but 10 were of the high-danger variety. Despite a pedestrian-looking .886 save percentage, he has made crucial saves at crucial times.

“He’s just absolutely not stats-driven,” coach Paul Maurice said. “The idea that he’s under the .900 (save percentage) mark, I don’t think he pays any attention to it. We certainly don’t.”

Maurice’s team will try to finish the job in a building, TD Garden, where it has won five consecutive playoff games. Doing so would bring Florida to the conference final for the second straight season.

The Panthers won 26 regular-season games both at home and on the road.

“The unusual part (about our team) is that our road numbers are as good as our home numbers. There’s not much difference in our game,” Maurice said. “Whether we feel good or we don’t, or we’re at home or we’re not, most nights we compete real darn hard. That gives you a chance to win at home and road.”

–Field Level Media

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