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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Sam Bennett: Enemy No. 1 in Boston Comes Up Big for Panthers

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Sam bennett
Florida’s Sam Bennett puts the puck past Jeremy Swayman as Charlie Coyle was moved out of the way by Bennett on a power-play chance in the third. Bennett’s goal tied the score at 2; it was challenged by the Bruins but the goal stood. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Sam Bennett was lustily booed just about every time he touched the puck Sunday night.

There are going to be some sore throats in Boston today.

“He had the puck a lot of the game,’’ Matthew Tkachuk told Hockey Night in Canada following Florida’s 3-2 win over the Bruins in Game 4. “He has been unbelievable for us.’’

And Bennett is indeed despised in Boston.

Perhaps more so today than yesterday, if you can believe that.

Not only does he not mind the notoriety, Bennett seems to revel in it.

“I think I get a little extra juice, a little extra excited for these games,’’ he said after Florida put the Bruins on the verge of elimination with the win.

“I enjoy every second of these games.”

Bennett drew the ire of the Bruins and their fans after he caught captain Brad Marchand with a hit early in Florida’s Game 3 win.

Video shown on TNT for the first time Sunday night showed Bennett hit Marchand in the face — leading to a suspected concussion.

Marchand did not play Sunday night because of it.

On Sunday, several Bruins challenged Bennett to fight, but after returning from an injured hand sustained in Game 2 against the Lightning, he was doing no such thing.

He can still score, however.

Bennett’s contested power-play goal at 3:41 of the third period tied the score at 2.

Florida captain Sasha Barkov gave the Panthers the lead for good four minutes later.

Boston challenged Bennett’s goal, claiming goalie interference; Bennett did give Charlie Coyle a shove in the back as he was in the crease, the Boston defenseman going into goalie Jeremy Swayman.

Bennett popped the loose puck into the net.

After a video review, the NHL determined Bennett’s action did not interfere with Swayman, and the goal stood.

“It was a little shove,” Bennett told TNT following the game. “I am putting that puck in the net before Swayman has an opportunity whether Coyle is in his grille or not. I believe I am putting that puck in before he’s across no matter what. I think that’s why it stood and I think it is the right call.”

Florida’s Paul Maurice had something to say about it being upheld.

“So, I have an opinion and it would be ‘no’ in that it will have no impact on the play of the game and then the player,” he said. “The connection between the two, the contact between the two is not egregious at all, and the play just gets finished more than anything else. That’s in the situation book and it’s in the [NHL rules] reel.

Boston disagreed.

Vehemently.

No matter.

“I just want to stick to facts,’’ Swayman said, “and the fact is my own player was pushed into me by theirs and I couldn’t play my position.”

Jim Montgomery said: “We thought Coyle was on top of our goaltender, and if Coyle had been able to stand his ground, he could have cleared the puck.That inhibited our goaltender from being able to react to playing the puck.”

Bennett also spoke for the first time on the Marchand drama, something Maurice decried as having “lots of energy, lots of coverage of this. I think you guys have lost your minds on it, which is fine. You have that right. We have been a very disciplined team.”

With the bad hand, Bennett said he braced himself when he saw Marchand lining him up for a hit as he played the puck off the boards by the bench.

Whatever happened after that, Bennett explained, was merely accidental.

“I was not trying to punch him in the head like everyone is saying,” Bennett told TNT. “People can have different opinions; I’m just bracing myself for him coming to hit me. There is no way I would have had time to think about punching him in the head.

“But people can see it however they want. It’s playoff hockey. There are going to be hard plays. It is unfortunate he got hurt, but that’s just a hockey play in my mind. … Normally, I am going to go with two hands to protect myself but I am coming back from an injury. I am going to protect myself anyway I can. That’s all there was to it.”

Do the Bruins buy that?

You know they do not.

“He’s hard to play against,’’ Anton Lundell said. “He’s great to have on your team instead of the other team. It’s huge to have him back.”

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 3-1
GAME 5

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surveyjay

If they really thought he “sucker punched” him, like truley believed that, then someone would have MADE him fight, not ask him to. The code goes out the window when they feel something is so egregiously over the line, and they just grab a n d punch, theres no asking, think Kasian with our boy Tkachuk a few years back, If they feel a line was truly crossed, then they grab a guy and start punching them. You don’t “ask” him to fight at that point. You make him fight and they didn’t do that last game. So that leads… Read more »

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