SUNRISE — The end, it appears, is close for the Florida Panthers after the Boston Bruins took complete control of their first-round playoff series with a 6-2 win in Game 4 on Sunday.
Boston will head home and try to end this series with a third consecutive win on Wednesday night.
The Bruins lead this best-of-7 series 3-1.
Florida, for the third time in four games this series, found themselves down 1-0 in the first period and were unable to completely recover.
Boston had leads of 1-0, 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 during the competitive time of Sunday’s game as Florida was able to draw within one goal at times but came no closer.
Down 2-0 late in the second, Matthew Tkachuk scored a beaut of a goal only to see the Bruins tack on another early in the third.
Florida finally got a power play goal from Sam Bennett at 6:11 of the third to snap an 0-for-9 run this series — just to see Jake DeBrusk get his second of the night to make it 4-2 with 11:55 remaining to all but end Florida’s hopes.
Sergei Bobrovsky ended with saves on 25 of 30 shots as he made his first start since March 27 in Ottawa.
Boston’s first goal came when Brad Marchand hopped on a loose puck a downed Bobrovsky could not locate.
Although referee TJ Luxmore appeared blew the play dead when he lost sight of the puck and waved off the goal, after a short conference among the officials, the goal was awarded to the Bruins.
After the game, Bobrovsky said he could not locate the puck because a teammate shouted he had the puck secured under his arm. Of course, the puck was on the ice between his legs and he did not move — thinking the puck would drop from his arm if he did so.
The Bruins hopped on the puck but the ref blew it dead. Then they changed their mind.
The Bruins’ second goal came more traditionally as they made it 2-0 early in the second as DeBrusk streaked toward the net and planted a Taylor Hall pass into the back of the net.
Tkachuk brought life back to the arena with his through-the-legs goal finally beat Linus Ullmark (41 saves) but a couple of more goals by the Bruins did Florida in.
DeBrusk scored on a rebound off a Pavel Zacha shot at 8:05 of the third and that two-goal lead was just too much for the Panthers to recover from as Hall ended it with 3:36 remaining.
Sunday’s game certainly had a physical element to it as Ryan Lomberg got popped in the face by the stick of Zacha in the first period and had to be attended to on the ice.
Tkachuk got hit with a penalty which led to Boston’s second goal for cross-checking Garnet Hathaway in the ribs at the end of the first.
Once the game got out of hand, however, things went the way we all thought they would.
Even Ullmark got into it, getting tossed for going after Tkachuk with 3:11 remaining.
GOALS OF THE GAME
- Bruins 1, Panthers 0 (9:45, 1st): Boston gets a controversial goal that ref TJ Luxmore waved off after Brad Marchand jammed a loose puck past Sergei Bobrovsky. After discussion, the refs allowed the goal.
- Bruins 2, Panthers 0 (1:52, 2nd): Taylor Hall found a streaking Jake DeBrusk with 8 seconds left in the Matthew Tkachuk penalty taken at the end of the first. We’ll get to Tkachuk soon.
- Bruins 2, Panthers 1 (16:00, 2nd): Tkachuk gives Florida some life in a second period dominated by Boston as he finds a loose puck by the cage, pulls it between his skates and fires it past Linus Ullmark to get the Panthers going.
- Bruins 3, Panthers 1 (2:26, 3rd): Tyler Bertuzzi is having himself a series as the former Detroit forward bats down a soft shot from Brandon Carlo and puts it past Bobrovsky.
- Bruins 3, Panthers 2 (6:11, 3rd): The Panthers finally snapped an 0-for-9 run with the power play as Sam Bennett was able to follow up a Brandon Montour shot to pull Florida back within a goal.
- Bruins 4, Panthers 2 (8:05, 3rd): The momentum did not last long as DeBrusk gets another one as he follows up a Pavel Zacha shot.
- Bruins 5, Panthers 2 (16:24, 3rd): Hall drives in and beats Bobrovsky.
- Bruins 6, Panthers 2 (19:31, 3rd): Hey, it’s Hall with the empty netter!
GR’S 3 STARS OF GAME 4
1. Jake DeBrusk, Boston
2. Taylor Hall, Boston
3. Tyler Bertuzzi, Boston
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS, ROUND 1
BOSTON BRUINS (ATL1) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 5 (Boston Leads 3-1)
- When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Boston Garden
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN
- 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: @Florida, Sunday; Game 5: at Boston, Wednesday, 7 (BSF, ESPN); Game 6*: at Florida, Friday; Game 7*: at Boston, Sunday, April 30. (*) — If Necessary.