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May 11, 2024 2:27 pm

Panthers looking to take control of series in Game 4 vs. Bruins

Panthers

In the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Boston Bruins threw the first punch. The Florida Panthers punched back in a big way.

Florida, which holds a 2-1 series lead after being swept in four regular-season meetings, looks to take full command with a second straight win in Boston when the teams meet again for Game 4 on Sunday.

Going 4-for-6 on the power play and Evan Rodrigues scoring two goals were Game 3 keys for the Panthers, who led 4-0 and had scored 10 straight goals in the series before the Bruins started to mount a comeback with two third-period goals.

It was a true breakout for Florida, which had gone 1-for-9 on the man advantage in the first two games of the series.

“I’ve been far more bullish on power play than at least the goals would tell you I should be,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “It’s easy to say now, ‘Well, it’s just a matter of time,’ but if you keep doing the right things over and over, you’re going to have a good night.”

Most importantly, it was an overall effort upon which Florida can look to build.

Florida allowed just three shots in the first period and had a 33-17 shot advantage for the game, adding up to its fourth straight playoff win at Boston dating back to last season.

“I think we just played our game,” Rodrigues said. “I think we’ve done a really good job of hanging onto pucks in the O-zone and trying to wear them down and kind of turning it into a three-quarter-ice game. I thought our D played phenomenal.”

Center Sam Bennett returned from an upper-body injury, adding another key presence to the Panthers’ playoff-style game.

“He’s such a talented player and such a hard worker, he’s physical, gets in on the forecheck, and is strong on pucks,” Tkachuk said of Bennett.

On Boston’s side, a hit from Bennett forced captain Brad Marchand to exit Friday’s game with his own upper-body ailment, though no supplemental discipline was issued as of Saturday afternoon.

Marchand did not return for the third period or take the ice for practice on Saturday. He is day-to-day.

“I think you’ll see guys take on more responsibility and opportunity and rise to the occasion and do it together (if Marchand cannot play),” forward Charlie Coyle said. “We want to play for guys who are out of the lineup and can’t be in there. … We play for each other.”

With or without the captain, the Bruins will have to step it up to “another level” if they want to avoid facing elimination when the series shifts back to Florida for Game 5 on Tuesday.

Jake DeBrusk scored after assisting on Jakub Lauko’s goal in the third period of Game 3, but it was not enough.

“I don’t think we were on top of our game,” Montgomery said. “Our execution, to be honest, the last two games — the last two periods of (Game 2) and the first two periods (of Game 3) — has just not been good enough. That’s why I say it’s my fault, I’ve got to be better.”

The Bruins have ridden the hot goaltending hand of Jeremy Swayman for the last eight starts in this postseason. He has allowed at least four goals in back-to-back games after allowing two or fewer in his first seven playoff starts.

“You seen this guy? This guy wants the crease,” Montgomery said. “That’s the will and the skill that we want from everyone.”

–Field Level Media

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