Bruins save their season with incredible stretch to close out Game 5 win vs. Panthers

by 24USATVMay 15, 2024, 1 p.m. 18
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BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins hung on for dear life on Tuesday night, saving their season with an incredible three-minute stretch to close out a hard-fought Game 5 win over the Panthers in Florida.

Trailing 3-1 in the series, the Bruins were clinging to a 2-1 lead late in the third period. But the Panthers were on the attack for most of the final period, and they added an extra attacker for the final three minutes.

Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck out of the Boston end, but he was just over the red line and was called for an icing. The stoppage in play and subsequent faceoff in Boston's end let the Panthers pull Sergei Bobrovsky from net and give them an extra skater as Florida tried desperately to net the equalizing goal.

It led to a frantic final three minutes and five seconds of the game, but the Bruins turned back every Panthers attempt. Whether by way of a blocked shot or an incredible save by Jeremy Swayman, the Bruins shut out the Panthers for the entirety of their 6-on-5 attack, and will now Boston will live to see a Game 6.

The Panthers won the initial faceoff after McAvoy's icing and Sam Reinhart -- who scored Florida's only goal of the night in the second period -- tried to send the puck to the net. But McAvoy atoned for his icing and blocked the shot.

Florida's Carter Verhaeghe attempted to do the same less than a minute later but was also rejected. Not once, not twice, but three times, with Jake DeBrusk, Hampus Lindholm, and Charlie Coyle each blocking his attempts. The Bruins blocked six shots while the Panthers had six skaters on the ice.

Florida had one final look with seven seconds left, and it was a great one as Reinhart ended up with the puck on the left side of the net. But there was no open net for the Panthers center, because Swayman quickly slid across the crease to make his 28th and most important save on the night.

With their backs against the wall, the Bruins played their butts off in Game 5. The defense was a lot more crisp and didn't struggle clearing pucks, which was a massive issue over the previous three games. McAvoy had his best game of the series with the game-winning goal (which came just four minutes after Reinhart tied it at 1-1), an assist, three hits and four blocked shots.

The Bruins blocked 21 shots in Game 5, with 12 different players putting themselves in front of the puck. And when the puck did get through to the net, Swayman once again did his best impression of a brick wall. He stopped all 10 shots that the Panthers sent his way in the third period.

"We had an edge," Swayman said of the Bruins after the win. "And we weren't taking no for an answer."

"Never say die," McAvoy said. "We're going home and this series is wide open. Let's go home and win a hockey game."

The Bruins still have their backs against the wall, trailing 3-2 in the series, but all the pressure is now on Florida. And if Boston can flip the script and pull off a 3-1 comeback against the Panthers, returning the favor from last postseason, the B's three-minute stretch to close Game 5 will be seen as a clear turning point in the series.

The Bruins will now get an extra day before Game 6 in Boston on Friday night, which will give Swayman some much-needed rest and Brad Marchand a chance to return to the lineup after he missed the last two games.

The Bruins showed some incredible poise to close out Game 5 in a hostile setting. Now they have some life in the series, and are a home win away from setting up a Game 7 back in Florida on Sunday.

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