Ice Hockey
Panthers lose playoff rematch in overtime to Bruins
Panthers lose playoff rematch in overtime to Bruins
Jun 18, 2024 10:37 AM

The last time the Florida Panthers and Boston Bruins played each other, an underdog Panthers team shocked the hockey world — knocking off the record-setting Presidents’ Trophy winners in Game 7 overtime.

Winning the series after trailing 3-1, this comeback would be the start of what eventually led to Florida’s surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final as the eighth-seed — exactly six months ago at the TD Garden.

Half a year later, Florida returned to Boston tonight for their matchup since the playoffs.

Despite being a regular season matchup — no matter how you see it — this wasn’t just an October regular season game. The Panthers put a shocking end to a Bruins season that many thought could lead to a Stanley Cup — this one meant more to Boston.

“It’s not 1 of 82,” Bruins’ head coach Jim Montgomery told reporters this morning. “No. They ended our season. They went all the way to the Finals. Our summers were miserable until the Finals were over. And that’s because they beat us. So yeah, this means more.”

In what could be seen as a revenge game for Boston, it was expected that the Bruins would come out of the gates strong. However, the team to first break the ice on Monday were the visiting Panthers.

6:12 into the first period, Florida’s captain Aleksander Barkov scored his second goal of the season, beating Linus Ullmark below the glove off the rush to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Florida controlled the pace of play in the first period. Boston struggled to retain o-zone time — while the Panthers were quick to transition the other way.

Less than 10 minutes after opening the scoring, Florida’s top line would double the lead.

From behind the net, Barkov layed a pass towards the front of the slot right to Sam Reinhart. Reinhart, who leads the Panthers in goals, didn’t waste his chance to increase his goal numbers, scoring his eighth of the season to give Florida a 2-0 lead with 4:52 remaining in the first.

The Barkov-Reinhart duo would both finish the period with a goal and an assist.

After what was their best opening period of the season, Florida went into the intermission leading 2-0 — outshooting Boston 16-6.

Following a lackluster opening 20 minutes, the Bruins looked much more like themselves when they came out for the second.

Trailing by two, Bruins’ captain Brad Marchand would be the man to get his team on the board. While Boston forward Jake DeBrusk drove the play down towards the left side of Sergei Bobrovsky, Marchand got just enough of his body away from Gustav Forsling to get a blade on DeBrusk’s pass, tipping in his fifth goal of the season 3:38 into the second.

Boston was the better team in the second. They pushed the pace of play and had Florida on the ropes for much of the period. They outshot the Panthers 14-9 in that frame.

Another storyline entering tonight’s game was the season debut of Panthers forward Sam Bennett. Bennett — who missed the first seven games of the season with a lower-body injury — got the green light to play on Monday night.

Drawing down the middle on Florida’s second-line, Bennett immediately showed the drive and physicality he has been known for in Florida. Unfortunately, the excitement of Bennett’s return was cut short early in the second after the forward left the game with an apparent leg injury.

Bennett’s left leg — which was previously injured — took slight contact from Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm in front of Boston’s net. Bennett immediately went down in visible pain. He didn’t return to the game after being helped off the ice by Panthers trainers.

The Bruins second period push was dangerous, but it would only amount to one goal. Florida went into the final intermission leading 2-1.

With just a single goal separating the two sides, the third period was setting up to be a good one.

After trailing 2-0 earlier in the game, Boston would erase Florida’s lead 7:20 into the third.

With the puck in the Panthers’ zone, David Pastrnak hit a streaking Charlie McAvoy in front of goal. McAvoy did his way past Bobrovsky to tie the game at 2-2.

McAvoy’s goal levelled things in the third, however minutes later a dumb mistake by the defenseman ended his night, and put the Panthers on an extended power play. Ekman-Larsson left the game, and did not return.

McAvoy would be assessed a match penalty after he hit Oliver Ekman-Larsson up high, and away from the puck. His night was done, and Florida went to a five-minute power play.

Florida had a glorious opportunity to reclaim their lead following the Bruins’ major penalty around the midway point of the third. Florida’s power play, which was 0/2 on the night remained cold through the entire five-minute man-advantage. The Panthers only got six shots on goal over the course of the long power play — Boston killed it off to keep the game tied.

After regulation the game remained tied. As they did twice in the playoffs, there would be overtime in Boston.

Last time the two sides played each other in overtime, Florida came out on top. While the stakes weren’t as high tonight, Boston got what they were looking for in OT.

With 1:24 left in overtime, Boston caught Florida off the rush with two of their forwards behind the play. With a full head of steam, Pavel Zacha’s wrist shot beat Bobrovsky blocker side for the game-winning goal.

The Bruins improved their season record to 8-0-1. tonight, while the Panthers picked up a point as they moved to 4-3-1 on the year.

Previous Article:Barkov and Bobrovsky hit career milestones in Panthers 2-0 win over Red Wings Next Article:Panthers wrap up homestand with 3-2 win over Kraken
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