(GREG M. COOPER/USA TODAY SPORTS)
Home: Florida Panthers: 41-30-8, 90 points, fourth in the Atlantic Division
Away: Boston Bruins: 49-18-12, 110 points, first in the Atlantic Division
Tuukka Rask got into the game early with a nice kick save on Aleksander Barkov on the game’s opening shift. The Bruins looked into the game from the get go as Jake DeBrusk nearly gave the B’s the lead but hit the post on a chance from the slot.
Barkov broke the scoreless tie 7:44 into the first period after a beautiful passing sequence. The goal marked Barkov’s 100th career strike and his 27th of the season.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Dadonov hits <a href=”https://twitter.com/Barkovsasha95?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Barkovsasha95</a> with a beautiful pass and it’s 1-0. <a href=”https://t.co/q6AzzTkejP”>pic.twitter.com/q6AzzTkejP</a></p>— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) <a href=”https://twitter.com/NHLGIFs/status/982044617779613696?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 5, 2018</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Old friend Frank Vatrano added to the lead less than two minutes later after a turnover behind the net. The tally was Vatrano’s fifth of the season, third with the Panthers.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Look who it is.<br><br>Frank Vatrano beats Rask to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead over his former team. <a href=”https://t.co/zCRFxabY3V”>pic.twitter.com/zCRFxabY3V</a></p>— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ConorRyan_93/status/982045227836993536?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 6, 2018</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Michael Matheson took a holding penalty with about five minutes to play as David Krejci was able to sell it pretty well. Ryan Donato worked quickly as he potted a rebound just 15 seconds into the powerplay.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Ryan Donato 😍 <a href=”https://t.co/PRHMYT9bpC”>pic.twitter.com/PRHMYT9bpC</a></p>— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) <a href=”https://twitter.com/PeteBlackburn/status/982048994359676930?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 6, 2018</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Score: 2-1 Florida
The Bruins knotted it up early in the period as a Florida turnover in their own zone resulted in a Danton Heinen goal. Heinen’s 15th of the year came from DeBrusk and Krejci at 2:11 of the period.
<blockquote class=”twitter-video” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>DANTON HEINEN TIES IT FOR THE BRUINS! <a href=”https://t.co/ufi1ld86qi”>pic.twitter.com/ufi1ld86qi</a></p>— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) <a href=”https://twitter.com/NHLDaily365/status/982062099257024512?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 6, 2018</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The Panthers held much of the possession in the period and most of the chances but were unable to solve Rask who looked much improved from the first period.
Adam McQuaid went to the box with 6:15 to play in the period for a questionable interference penalty. The Bruins killed off the penalty thanks to some big blocks by the defense and Rask.
The Bruins went on the penalty kill with 15:42 to go in the game as Charlie McAvoy went off for hooking. Thanks to some solid play in their own end, the B’s killed off the penalty which kept the game scoreless.
As the period wound down, the Bruins started to tilt the ice in their favor as the Panthers looked to be a big fatigued. Colby Cave got involved with a big hit on Barkov with seven minutes remaining.
The Panthers got new life as Jared McCann tipped in a shot from the point with just 5:37 to go. McCann’s ninth of the season gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead.
<blockquote class=”twitter-video” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>JARED MCCANN TIPS ONE HOME AND KEEPS THE PANTHERS SEASON ALIVE! <a href=”https://t.co/jlzQpl5irO”>pic.twitter.com/jlzQpl5irO</a></p>— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) <a href=”https://twitter.com/NHLDaily365/status/982080761896484864?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 6, 2018</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Nick Bjugstad got loose for a breakaway after a turnover in the offensive zone by the Bruins but Rask came up big with a glove save to keep it a one-goal game.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Another big save by Tuukka Rask on Nick Bjugstad getting behind the Bruins defense again. He’s got 31 saves & counting tonight and definitely hasn’t been the issue with the B’s in this one.</p>— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) <a href=”https://twitter.com/HackswithHaggs/status/982076175341182976?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>April 6, 2018</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Not to outdo himself but Rask again stopped another breakaway this time by Vincent Trocheck as the Panthers forward tried to slip it five-hole.
Rask skated to the bench with about a minute to go as the Bruins looked to tie the game. Luongo and the Panthers stood tall, preserving their slim playoff hopes.
Final Score: 3-2 Panthers
Worth noting that Roberto Luongo played in his 1000th career game Thursday night. Big congratulations to him!