SUNRISE — It is natural to wonder whether the magical run for Alex Lyon came to a close Friday night after Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice pulled his goalie in the third period of Game 3.
The Panthers were down 3-0 when David Pastrnak scored for the Bruins with 11:28 remaining in the game.
By the way Florida was playing offensively against the shut-it-down Bruins, this game was all but over.
So, Maurice put in veteran Sergei Bobrovsky to finish it up.
But does it sound like Maurice is going to make a change when it comes to his starting goalie?
It did not, at least not Friday night.
“He has played heavy pressure games,” Maurice said of Lyon following Florida’s 4-2 loss to the Bruins.
“At 3-0, in my mind, if we do mount a comeback, it would not because our goalie stood on his head. We needed to get some action going.
“And, I have a really good goalie who has not played in a very long time. There is a risk to put a guy in who has been sitting for a while, but he needed some action, right? It was not a critique of Alex’s game. But if we were coming back, it was not going to be on account of the goalie. So, what the hell?”
Bobrovsky, as Maurice noted, had not played since he was starting to feel the effects of a nasty flu bug on March 27 in Ottawa.
The following day, Bobrovsky was ruled out of Florida’s upcoming game in Toronto and Lyon was told he would be filling in.
Florida’s surprising 3-2 overtime win against the Maple Leafs put a halt to a four-game losing streak with Lyon leading the Panthers to six straight wins and a seven-game point streak to put his team into the playoffs.
Alex Lyon has become a folk hero around these parts — one getting plenty of national attention — but the Bruins solved him on Friday night.
Two of the three goals Boston scored on Lyon were thrown at his gloveside with the other coming off a deflection.
Again, the Panthers did not lose Friday because of Lyon’s play in goal. It should have been good enough.
Lyon stopped 23 shots on Friday and made a couple of big ones.
But he certainly would love another chance at stopping Hall’s initial shot from 35 feet out which gave the Bruins a lead they would not relinquish.
The Bruins played with the lead from 2 1/2 minutes on.
“It wasn’t a great goal,’’ Lyon said. “I take accountability for that and stuff happens. You just have to keep a clear mind because stuff happens. Sometimes good things happen and sometimes unfortunate things happen. It’s part of the game, the nature of the business.”
Florida is again chasing this series after losing Game 1 in Boston.
The Panthers felt they let one go in the opener in Boston but they could not say the same on this night.
Boston bottled them up, gave them no space to work and kept the Panthers from even getting the puck into the offensive zone very much.
Florida’s power play chances, for the most part, were snuffed out.
“It was an unfortunate game,” Lyon said. “But, the message is the same as it was the last game and the same message we have had since we have been playing for our lives for a long time. We have to keep moving forward, have a good, positive attitude and keep moving forward. We have a quick turnaround here.”
Bobrovsky did give up a goal in the third as Boston made it 4-0 before the Panthers made a mad-dash to making this a game.
Eetu Luostarinen fed Gus Forsling on a slick 2-on-1 rush while killing a Sasha Barkov roughing penalty after he stuck up for Anton Lundell to make it 4-1 with 5:19 remaining.
Sam Reinhart then scored in a scrum down by the net with Florida’s net empty and 4:01 left on the clock to give the Panthers at least a shot.
The Panthers could get nothing else through, however, as they answered their four-shot second period by outshooting the Bruins 19-16 in the third and tying them in goals 2-2.
It was, of course, too little and too late.
The Panthers needed to storm out of the tunnel and dominate Boston in the third period.
They simply did not come close to accomplishing that.
Now, it is time to see what the Panthers are made of.
They play host to the Bruins in Game 4 on Sunday afternoon in a must-win game.
Florida knows it cannot afford to go 0-2 at home and head back to Boston with the Bruins — and injured captain Patrice Bergeron, perhaps — holding the elimination hammer.
Win Sunday and the Panthers make this a best-of-3.
“I think we only have one option,” Lyon said. “We have to come back as hard as we can and there are not many options on the table. This is a very resilent group. Moving forward, I have no doubt we will continue to battle.
“We have plenty of respect for that team over there. It is a really good team and you have to take that into account. You can’t get too low, can’t get too high. Just roll with the punches.’’
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.