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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Florida Panthers Fall Flat, Smoked in Game 1 by the Boston Bruins



Panthers bruins
Players pile up in front of the Boston Bruins goal during the third period of Game 1 of the second-round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Monday night. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

SUNRISE — A week off did not serve the Florida Panthers well heading into their second-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins.

Florida fell flat midway through the second and, despite taking the initial lead, served up a dud in a 5-1 loss to the Bruins.

The Panthers languished in a loss marred by self-inflicted wounds and sloppy play.

Florida held the lead for just one minute before the Bruins pounced on them with three goals to close the second to take a 1-0 series lead on the road.

“They were pretty sharp and they capitalized on their opportunities and we had a couple of breakdowns,” Kyle Okposo said.

“You never want to dip your toe into a series but they’re coming off a seven-game series and they are in a bit of a rhythm and we had a week off. But they played well, they played to their game plan and they were sharp, and we just had a few too many breakdowns tonight and they capitalized on them.”

Matthew Tkachuk gave them a 1-0 lead with 8:15 to go in the second period but things went downhill for a few reasons.

“I think it’s a different style of team than we played in the first round,” Tkachuk said. “We had a solid start to get the first goal, which is always big, but then I don’t even know if we took our foot of the gas, but wen just made some mistakes and weren’t as hard as we needed to be tonight.”

For one, the Panthers struggled to clear the puck out of their zone.

Enemy Lines: Follow the Bruins at Boston Hockey Now

Aaron Ekblad served up a failed clearing attempt to David Pastrnak  a minute after Tkachuk’s goal which directly led to Boston’s tying goal.

Boston got the puck to the net immediately after and Morgan Geekie potted home the rebound with 7:08 to go in the second period to tie the game.

A failed Gus Forsling clearing attempt then turned into a Mason Lohrei goal with 3:43 to go in the second period.

Forsling then got beat off the rush before Charlie Coyle sent a pass to a wide-open Brandon Carlo at the point, who sent a shot past Bobrovksy with 23.1 seconds to go in the second period to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead through 40 minutes.

“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.”

It was an uncharacteristic night of errors for Forsling, Ekblad and a number of key Panthers defenders.

What led to those errors?

“Poor execution,” Okposo said. “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.”

The power play also came out flat after the long layover.

They may have put up seven shots on Jeremy Swayman, but they couldn’t move the puck fast enough or put enough bodies in front to get many genuinely good looks.

And on chances they did, like when Tkachuk had missed a virtually wide-open net, they could not capitalize.

”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.”

Boston immediately grabbed a hold of the momentum after each penalty they killed.

Lohrei’s eventual game-winning goal came seconds after a failed Panthers power play.

Justin Brazeau’s goal, which made it 4-1 in the third period, came after Boston had a few high-danger looks in a row following Florida’s third and final power play.

The Bruins took full advantage of those momentum swings when the Panthers could not.

Jeremy Swayman proved to be huge in that regard, stopping 38 of 39 shots while stopping all nine high-danger shots he faced.

“We just have to work harder,” captain Sasha Barkov said. “Not just offensively, but in all parts. Obviously getting to the net more and making his life uncomfortable. We need to keep working.”

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