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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

How the Florida Panthers Got Going Against the Bruins



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Florida captain Sasha Barkov celebrates after scoring his first of two goals in the second period against the Bruins in Game 2 on Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers did not look as desperate as they probably needed to be at the start of Wednesday’s second game of their playoff series with the Boston Bruins.

Things changed in the second.

Coach Paul Maurice changed his lines in a slow first period, one in which the Bruins took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Charlie Coyle at 12:12.

Maurice went back to what worked prior, putting Sam Reinhart back with Sasha Barkov; placing Matthew Tkachuk with Anton Lundell.

It was no coincidence then that the Panthers, down 1-0 and looking a bit slow once again, got rolling in the final minutes of the first.

The second — and third periods — were all Florida and it led to a 6-1 win in Game 2.

Down 1-0, the Panthers scored three goals in the second, including one with 1.3 seconds left in the period from Gus Forsling off some terrific work by Barkov, Brandon Montour and Lundell.

Boston hoped to get back into it with a fast start to the third, but it was Florida which got another Barkov goal to put it out of reach.

Then, things got a little nuts.

And that, Maurice said, is a good thing.

Florida chased Jeremy Swayman out of this game after the Boston goalie looked like the second coming of Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy.

Boston coach Jim Montgomery said he thought of putting Linus Ullmark in to start the third, but only did so when Florida made it 4-1 just 88 seconds into the third.

This loss is not on Swayman.

Florida was simply on following its lackluster start.

The Panthers talked about getting in front of the Boston net and creating some havoc there following a rusty start to this series in Monday’s 5-1 loss.

It took them a minute to do so Wednesday, but once they did, lights out.

“Great bounce back for our team,” said Steven Lorentz, who tied it at 1 with his second goal of the playoffs which is one more than Toronto superstar Auston Matthews has this postseason. 

“I don’t know if the week off hurt us or really didn’t get into our game in the first one. We knew we needed to respond. … We were just chipping away. Once we got the first one, we kind of got the ball rolling.”

Florida, as Maurice said, “that is the way we’re supposed to look.’’

The Panthers were fast, were relentless on the forecheck and were tough defensively.

Brandon Montour coughed up the puck deep in his zone leading to Boston’s lone goal, but he certainly made up for it with one of his best showings with the Panthers.

It was his point shot that Lorentz deflected in, and he kept the puck in to allow Forsling to suck the wind out of the Boston sails in the final seconds of the second.

Montour also had some fun screwing with Brad Marchand which, probably, makes him one of the most popular players in hockey this morning.

The Panthers, simply, got back to what works on Wednesday.

For Boston, Wednesday was a kick in the head but it was not really a gut punch.

After all, the Bruins got a win in the two games played in the swamp and head back to Boston tied at 1.

“I thought we were fine in the second until they scored and then things went the other way,” Montgomery said. “Florida executed better than us tonight. The last game, we executed. It’s a long series.

“We got the one game we needed to get in Florida and now we move back to Boston.’’ 

Sergei Bobrovsky, someone not really mentioned on Wednesday, made big saves when needed.

But, he was not really needed.

Florida held Boston to just 15 shots, the lowest playoff total in its franchise history.

Bobrovsky stopped 14 of them, and the goal he gave up, came on a 3-on-1 following the Montour turnover.

All in all, it was a good night for hockey in South Florida.

“We did what we wanted to do,” Barkov said. “Obviously, they got the lead in the first period, but we didn’t change a thing. We just wanted to keep playing our game, keep playing hard and getting more to the net and that’s what we did all game.”

Oh, and Barkov was a beast.


“He’s not bad,” Maurice said of his captain, who had two goals and assisted on two others.

“If he keeps his nose clean, he’s going to have a job in this league.”

We shall see.

The jury is still out on that one.

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Duke del Valle

Forsling’s goal with .3 to go in the 2nd was massive. Simply amazing how it evolved from the faceoff with 11 seconds and change left. When that puck hit the twine the Panthers’ swagger and confidence was fully restored — which really teed the Bruins off.

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