SUNRISE — The Boston Bruins hoped to take the home crowd out of Game 3 against the Florida Panthers and, thanks to their suffocating defense, did just that.
Even without two of their top centers, the Bruins took a controlling 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series by beating the Panthers 4-2 at FLA Live Arena on Friday night.
Florida had taken home ice advantage from the Bruins with a Game 2 win on Wednesday night — but it was unable to get much of anything going on Friday until it was too late and gave it right back.
Game 4 is Sunday at 3:30.
Boston announced David Krejci would not play after taking warmups but the Bruins seemed no worse for wear.
The Bruins wanted to play a tight defensive game and did just that.
Boston eventually held a 4-0 lead on the Panthers before they got a couple of late ones to close the gap. But goals from Gus Forsling and Sam Reinhart did not make much of a difference in the outcome — but may set the tone for Sunday.
Florida got off eight shots in the first period — but only three were high-danger chances — as it was stuck to the outside against a Boston team more than willing to muck it up and slow things down.
The Panthers were also willing participants in this hard style of game, but much like a football team which relies on running the option, once you start losing, it is hard to come back.
And the Panthers were losing almost from the drop of the puck as Taylor Hall rifled off a shot from the top of the right circle and beat Alex Lyon gloveside.
Of the three goals Lyon allowed before being replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky in the third, two were at his glove as Boston went hard in targeting that area.
Florida found itself down 1-0 going into the second and was outshot 12-4 as the Bruins tacked on another when Charlie Coyle deflected a Brad Marchand shot at the seven-minute mark.
By the time David Pastrnak ripped one past Lyon with 11:28 remaining, this one was as good as done.
Bobrovsky came in to get some work — perhaps to get some rust off before a Game 4 start on Sunday — but gave up the fourth goal of the night to his former Columbus captain as Nick Foligno scored at 11:45 of the third.
Things took a rough turn, as expected, once the game was decided with tempers flaring after McAvoy put a big hit on Anton Lundell with Sasha Barkov jumping in and taking a roughing penalty.
Florida may have also lost Aaron Ekblad after taking a hit from McAvoy in the second period. Ekblad raced to the Florida room but did return in the second period.
Ekblad was not out for the start of the third, however, and did not return to the game.
Coach Paul Maurice said there was no update on Ekblad as he would be evaluated on Saturday.
GOALS OF THE GAME
- Bruins 1, Panthers 0 (2:26, 1st): Taylor Hall broke loose and fired one over Alex Lyon’s glove from the beyond the right circle to give Boston its first lead since Game 1.
- Bruins 2, Panthers 0 (7:00, 2nd): Charlie McAvoy gets in front and deflects a shot from Brad Marchand.
- Bruins 3, Panthers 0 (8:32, 3rd): Dmitry Orlov found David Pastrnak on a long stretch pass and his snapshot from the left circle was the end of Lyon’s night.
- Bruins 4, Panthers 0 (11:45, 3rd): Former Columbus captain Nick Foligno beat his former goalie with a nice move in front of the net.
- Bruins 4, Panthers 1 (14:41, 3rd): With Sasha Barkov in the box for roughing after going after McAvoy, Eetu Luostarinen fed Gus Forsling on a shorthanded 2-on-1 as Florida finally beat Linus Ullmark.
- Bruins 4, Panthers 2 (15:59, 3rd): With Sergei Bobrovsky out of the net, the Panthers gave themselves a chance as Sam Reinhart chopped at a loose puck and put it through.
GR’S 3 STARS OF GAME 3
1. Taylor Hall, Boston
2. Charlie McAvoy, Boston
3. Dmitry Orlov, Boston
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 4 (Boston Leads Series 2-1)
- When: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, TNT
- Radio: 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: Florida 6, @Boston 3; Game 3: Boston 4, @Florida 2; Game 4: at Florida, Sunday, 3:30 (BSF, TNT); Game 5: at Boston, Wednesday, 7 (BSF, ESPN); Game 6*: at Florida, Friday, April 28; Game 7*: at Boston, Sunday, April 30. (*) — If Necessary.