Boston Bruins put Florida Panthers in early Stanley Cup Playoffs second-round hole

by 24USATVMay 7, 2024, noon 20
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SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers had been off for a week, since eliminating the Lightning in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in five games. The Boston Bruins were still wiping the sweat off after surviving a seven-game series with the Maple Leafs on Saturday.

But the rested team lost any momentum it had as the Panthers dropped Game 1 of their second-round series to the Bruins 5-1 on Monday night. A three-goal Boston surge late in the second period was the turning point.

The Panthers briefly held the lead with 8:15 to go in the first period after a goal from Matthew Tkachuk, but Boston immediately answered back just over a minute later.

Morgan Geekie first put home a rebound with chaos ensuing in front of the net with 7:08 to go in the second. Mason Lohrei then picked the top left corner with a clean wrist shot with 3:43 left in the second. Brandon Carlo finished off the surge with 20.8 seconds to go with a shot from the point.

“We gave up seven shots in that period and they put three of them in,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “It’s not Sergei [Bobrovksy]. Two of them, we didn’t break the puck out, the third one we got beat off the rush on a play that should’ve been killed fairly easily.”

Justin Brazeau put Boston up 4-1 with a backhand move on a breakaway 7:13 into the third period to put the game well out of reach.

Jake DeBrusk sealed it with an empty netter with 3:22 to go.

“They played really well, so they didn’t let us make those simple plays,” captain Aleksander Barkov said. “They stayed really hard on the pucks, got a couple of turnovers there.”

Here are three takeaways from Monday's game:

Panthers were flat on the power play

Florida could not get much of anything going on the power play, going 0-for-3 and resulting in momentum-swinging moments the other way.

The Panthers generated seven shots, nine scoring chances and four high danger chances, but could not get anything past Boston goalie Jeremy Swayman. And on multiple occasions, they gave up high-danger chances on the other end almost immediately after.

Lohrei’s eventual game-winning goal came mere seconds after an unsuccessful power play, and the Bruins got another chance on a breakaway, which Bobrovsky stopped.

”They are a very good PK team, especially in the playoffs,” Tkachuk said. “We had a couple looks but we were probably just too slow tonight on the power play. That’s something we gotta figure out.”

The Panthers could not get out of their own way at certain points of the game.

Aaron Ekblad turned the puck over right to David Pastrnak on a failed clearing attempt right before Boston’s first goal of the game. Another muffed clearing attempt by Gustav Forsling led to Lohrei’s goal.

A combination of a heavy Boston forecheck and a few sloppy passes dug a hole too deep for the Panthers to claw out of on Monday night.

“I think poor execution,” right wing Kyle Okposo said when asked what led to the breakdowns. “We got to be a little bit quicker to support each other. They were on top of us, they were skating, they were moving and I think that we’re going to clean some stuff up and be better, but give them credit.”

Jeremy Swayman proves he is 'the guy' for Boston

Going into the postseason, the Bruins decided they were going to handle their goaltending on a rotational basis. Linus Ullmark, the 2022-23 Vezina Trophy winner, and young breakout star Swayman would share those duties after each posted stellar regular seasons.

More:Five Reasons why Florida Panthers can win the Stanley Cup championship as playoffs near

That lasted all of two games after Ullmark lost Game 2 of the first round and Swayman ran away with the Toronto series, going 4-2 with a .950 save percentage and a 1.49 goals-against average.

Swayman proved, once again, that he is the guy who can perform in high-pressure situations, stopping 38 shots and coming up with numerous high-danger saves to help steal Game 1 on the road for the Bruins.

”We have to shoot the puck and we have to get some traffic there,” Okposo said. “[Swayman] is obviously extremely confident right now. He just played six really solid games. Seven if you include tonight. So he is definitely feeling it. I know we had a lot of volume tonight but I don’t think a lot of our looks were dangerous so we have to do a better job of getting there.”

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