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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Florida Panthers Down But Not Out After Game 1 Loss to Bruins

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Panthers bruins game 1
Nick Foligno knocks down Matthew Tkachuk during the third period of the Boston Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series on Monday night. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

The Florida Panthers have been in this position before. Losing Game 1 and being in a hole to the Boston Bruins is not the place you want to be, but, here they are.

The Panthers played a solid opening game against the powerhouse Bruins but proved what Matthew Tkachuk told FHN the day before their Stanley Cup Playoff series opened: The Panthers are going to have to play a perfect game to beat the Bruins.

They were not perfect on Monday night.

Not even close.

And here they are.

Florida was chasing the game almost from the start as Aaron Ekblad was called for tripping before the 2-minute mark with Givani Smith going to the box three minutes later.

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David Pastrnak cashed in on a beautiful no-look pass from Tyler Bertuzzi across the slot as Marc Staal and Eetu Luostarinen leapt in vain and it was 1-0 just 5:58 into the game.

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The Bruins held off the hard-charging Panthers the rest of the period, extended their lead to 2-0 at 3:41 of the second and ended up taking a 3-1 win and held serve in the series opener.

“I liked the front half of our game even though we were down 2-0 at one point,” coach Paul Maurice said. “I think we did some good things in the offensive zone. We gave up three or four solid chances off aggressiveness and decision-making. I think we can fix that, it is solvable. There are places we can execute better as in how we move the puck.”

Florida got what it hoped for from Alex Lyon as he made his NHL playoff debut, the 30-year-old continuing to give the Panthers a chance to win.

Only the Panthers did not give Lyon the chance to win.

Yeah, he gave up three goals, two of which he would like back and the Pastrnak/Bertuzzi one he did not have a prayer on.

But the Panthers did not lose because of Alex Lyon.

They were simply not good enough to beat a team of Boston’s pedigree, not on Monday anyway.

Can they be?

Maybe.

The Panthers have not had much success in series’ openers over the years as they have not won a Game 1 since beating the New York Rangers at Miami Arena back in 1997.

Since then they have dropped Game 1s to the Devils (twice), Islanders (twice if you count 2020), Lightning (twice) and Capitals.

Florida has only won one of those series although a few of them have been right competitive to the very end.

This series could be as well.

While the Bruins are better and deeper, that does not mean the Panthers cannot beat them.

They can.

But they are going to have to be a lot closer to perfect than they were on Monday night.

Getting a lead probably would not hurt.

“It is always difficult playing any team when you are trailing,” said Tkachuk, who made it 2-1 on a nice backhanded shot off a turnover at 6:34 of the second.

“I thought we started with some good energy and then we took some penalties and they got all the energy. We played really well the rest of the first. I don’t want to say we played a solid game, but there were parts that were good and I think they got better as they got on especially with a two-goal lead. …

“I am confident in our team and what I saw in our game. We can hang with these guys. I was happy with parts of our game and there are things we can work on.”

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 2
  • When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: T.D. Garden
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN/ESPN+
  • Radio: WAXY 790-AM/WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Regular Season Series (Tied 2-2): @Boston 5, Florida 3 (Oct. 17); @Florida 5, Boston 2 (Nov. 23); @Boston 7, Florida 3 (Dec. 19); @Florida 4, Boston 3 OT (Jan. 28)
  • Last Season: Boston won 2-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-38-6, 6 ties
  • Playoff History (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 4-1, 1996 (first round)
  • First Round Schedule — Game 1: Boston 3, Florida 1; Game 2: at Boston, Wednesday, 7:30 (ESPN); Game 3: at Florida, Friday, 7:30 (TNT); Game 4: at Florida, Sunday, April 23, 3:30 (TNT); Game 5*: at Boston, Wednesday, April 26; Game 6*: at Florida, Friday, April 28; Game 7*: at Boston, Sunday, April 30.

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