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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Florida Panthers Power Play Kicks Into Gear against Bruins

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Vladimir Tarasenko is celebrated for his power play goal in the second period to give the Florida Panthers a 2-0 lead. Carter Verhaeghe scored a minute later. Florida scored a franchise-playoff record four power-play goals. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

Following a fight-filled third period on Wednesday night, Friday’s Game 3 between the Panthers and Bruins was hyped as a ‘Battle of the Heavyweights.’

Yes, there were some skirmishes and a little controversy, but the brawls some hoped for never happened.

There was plenty of the obligatory nastiness but no dropping of the gloves.

Florida was too busy dismantling Boston’s penalty kill units in a 6-2 win which gave the Panthers a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4 is tonight at 6:30 (TBS).

Although both Charlie Coyle and Brad Marchand extended an early invitation to Sasha Barkov to continue the Tkachuk-Pastrnak caper, Barkov turned them down.

Sam Bennett later dropped Marchand in a hit that was undoubtedly talked about much more on Saturday than at any point on Friday.

After managing only one power-play goal in the first two games of the series, Florida methodically picked apart the Boston penalty kill and ended the night with four goals on six tries — including Evan Rodrigues’ goal long after the game had been decided.

By the end of the second period, Florida had eight power-play shots on goal, which was equal to Boston’s entire output of shots over the same span.

Boston has had only 32 SOG over the past two games. During the regular season, the Bruins averaged 25.4 shots per game.

By the game’s end, Florida had 11 power play shots compared to 17 total shots for Boston.

On the other end of the ice, Florida is 7-for-7 on the penalty kill; Boston had the third-best power play in the regular season.

In a playoff game, Florida’s four power-play goals were the most in franchise history.

Florida caught a few breaks along the way.

Mason Lohrei’s inadvertent high stick to the face of Steven Lorentz drew a double minor.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Carter Verhaeghe both scored during the ensuing power plays.

Jakub Lauko received a goaltender interference penalty early in the third period, which led to Brandon Montour’s goal, which made it 4-0.

It was Florida’s tenth consecutive goal against the Bruins since they took a 1-0 lead in Game 2.

The entire TD Garden crowd and probably most of the TV audience thought the call should have gone against Aaron Ekblad for holding.

Such are the breaks.

Boston coach Jim Montgomery pointed to the double minor as a turning point.

“In the second period, I thought we were coming,” Montgomery said. “Unfortunately, we got the high stick in a stick battle fighting for the puck, and that really changed the game.”

As for his team’s struggles killing penalties Friday, Montgomery said, “I don’t think we’re on top of our game. Our execution, to be honest, the last two periods of last game and the first two periods tonight has just not been good enough. That’s my fault. I’ve got to be better.”

Jeremy Swayman was complimentary of Florida’s power play.

“You’ve got to tip your cap to their power play,” he said. “They have a lot of talented players and they get pucks to the net. So we can go to the drawing board and look at what we can do better.”

Matthew Tkachuk acknowledged that power play, which had a slow start in the series, is now going strong.

“I actually think we’ve been good on the power play the last bunch of games, but they just haven’t gone in,” Tkachuk said. “I think that goal from Barky at the end of Game 2 was really big for our confidence. Seeing one go in even though we are around it so much.

“Really quick puck movement. Guys are interchangeable in spots. Can play any position there. As long as we’re just moving it quick and shooting when there’s somebody in front, that’s when we have success.”

Paul Maurice had defended his team’s power play despite its lack of tangible success in the first two games, but had his reasons.

“I’ve been far more bullish on our power play than the goals would tell you I should be,” Maurice said. “Our analytics on expected goals-for on our power play are very, very, high.

“If you keep doing the right things over and over, you’re going to have a good night. I think we saved those up.”

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1) V. BOSTON BRUINS (ATL2)
FLORIDA LEADS BEST-OF-7 SERIES TIED 2-1
GAME 4 

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