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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

May 9, 2024 6:29 pm

Rugged series for Bruins, Panthers moves to Boston

Brad Marchand

After splitting the first two games in Sunrise, Fla., the Boston Bruins will look to regain control of the Eastern Conference semifinals when they return home to battle the Florida Panthers in Game 3 on Friday.

The Panthers dominated Boston — amidst a heightened level of “emotion and adrenaline,” as Bruins captain Brad Marchand put it — to knot the series Wednesday, scoring six unanswered goals en route to a 6-1 win.

Aleksander Barkov posted two goals and two assists, Brandon Montour had a goal and two assists and Sam Reinhart had four assists in Game 2 for Florida, which is the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Division.

It was a much-needed response for the Panthers, who held a 33-15 shot advantage with just three allowed in the third period.

“Overall, we did what we wanted to do,” Barkov said. “They got the lead in the first period, but we didn’t change a thing. We just kept playing our game, going hard and to the net. That is what we did the whole game.”

Boston won 5-1 in Monday’s series opener, playing just two days after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime in Game 7 of its first-round series.

Meanwhile, Florida had a week off after eliminating the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games.

“I don’t know if the week off hurt us, (but we) really didn’t get into our game in the first one. We knew we needed to respond,” Florida center Steven Lorentz said. “We were just chipping away. Once we got the first (goal), we kind of got the ball rolling.”

The Panthers now have eight comeback wins in the postseason dating back to their 2023 run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Barkov led the way and now has eight points over his last three games.

“The thing I heard most when I came here was, ‘You have no idea how good Barkov is,'” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “I’ve got a TV. I’ve got a pretty good idea. It’s not my first game. But they were right. He’s better this year than he’s ever been.”

However the series turns in Game 3, the physicality should certainly continue after Wednesday featured a combined 148 penalty minutes. The night’s fisticuffs were highlighted by the talented duo of Boston’s David Pastrnak and Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk dropping the gloves.

The memory of last season’s seven-game, first-round series, won by Florida after facing a 3-1 deficit, also adds to the excitement.

“This is where rivalries are built in the playoffs. With last year, it kind of started there,” Marchand said. “They play a physical game and we’re able to do that as well. … A lot of really good battles, guys are competing hard out there. You can see both teams want to win.”

Charlie Coyle gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead in Wednesday’s first period, but it was all Florida from there.

“I thought our team was emotionally engaged,” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said. “I just didn’t think we had the juice. We couldn’t match the emotion that we had. That’s why you had the spillovers in the third period, because we did have emotion. A little undisciplined, but that’s part of playoff hockey.”

Boston’s goaltending situation could also be a question again after Linus Ullmark relieved Jeremy Swayman (four goals on 23 shots) in Wednesday’s third period.

The 25-year-old Swayman has started eight of the team’s nine playoff games, but he said his workload didn’t factor into his tough night, in which he allowed more than two goals for the first time in this run.

“One game at a time is all I’m worried about,” Swayman said. “Body feels great. I’m very lucky to be in this position. And I can’t wait ‘til Friday.”

–Field Level Media

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