(Photo Credit: Rhona Wise/AP Photo)

By Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis

It was an ugly scene in Sunrise, FL, as the Boston Bruins couldn’t withstand the Florida Panthers’ offensive onslaught. The Panthers scored six goals, and the officials issued six ten-minute misconducts throughout the game, so there was definitely a lot to see. Here’s how it went down.

Fast Start

There were several games this season where I repeatedly wrote about the Boston Bruins’ slow starts; tonight was a different story. After killing off an early Justin Brazeau penalty, Boston ratcheted up the pressure, getting pucks in deep and punishing the Panthers on the forecheck.

The relentless attack culminated in one of Boston’s best shifts of the playoffs thus far. With just under eight minutes left in the first, Charlie Coyle tied up Brandon Montour as he attempted to carry a puck around his net. Brad Marchand pinched down and forced a turnover, deflecting a bouncing puck to the blue line, where it was picked off by Pavel Zacha. Zacha and Marchand put together a beautiful give-and-go, leading to a Charlie Coyle tap-in for the game’s first tally.

The Bruins had a chance to extend their lead at the end of the first period on a Johnny Beecher and Justin Brazeau two-on-one. Beecher fed Brazeau in the slot and he fired a wrister off the pad of Sergei Bobrovsky. The rebound found its way to Beecher’s stick, but he couldn’t corral it, sending the puck wide of the cage.

Boston ended the first with a one-goal lead, but it wouldn’t last.

Paul Maurice Works His Magic

Panthers head coach Paul Maurice has been around the block once or twice, and he wasn’t ready to stand idly by as his team flubbed away their second straight home game. Maurice shook up his top three lines, moving Sam Reinhart and Vladimir Tarasenko back with Captain Aleksander Barkov. In addition, he moved Anton Lundell up to the second line, centering Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaege.

The line changes galvanized Florida to get on the board early and often in the second. Less than two minutes into the period, Steven Lorentz redirected a Brandon Montour point shot past Jeremy Swayman for the team’s first goal. Lorentz was left alone in front after a miscommunication between Parker Wotherspoon and Derek Forbort, leading to an easy deflection for the fourth liner.

The Panthers’ newly reunited first line scored their second goal of the night when Barkov buried a loose puck in front of Swayman. The play broke down when Charlie McAvoy fanned on a board play and lost his stick on a hit. The Panthers were able to regain possession of this turnover, and Barkov eventually beat the stickless McAvoy for the goal.

Things only got worse as the Panthers tallied a back-breaking with less than two seconds remaining in the period. Boston won the defensive zone faceoff, and Marchand tried to chip a puck off the glass and out. The puck was gloved down and eventually found its way to Gustav Forsling, who blasted home a slapper in the dying seconds of the period.

Swayman Gets Pulled

It was by no means his fault, but after an early Florida goal to start the third period, Jim Montgomery made the executive decision to pull his netminder in favor of Linus Ullmark. Although you couldn’t point to Swayman (20 saves on 24 shots) as the reason behind many (if any) of Florida’s tallies, it was clear his team needed a spark, and the goalie change was the only Hail Mary Montgomery could pull out.

The game got ugly after Florida’s fifth goal as the Bruins and Panthers decided to make this a blood feud. I’d love to describe in detail the different third-period scrums, but for the sake of the word count, the following players were ejected: Pat Maroon, Nick Cousins, Eetu Luostarinen, Justin Brazeau, Dmitry Kulikov, Trent Frederic, Niko Mikkola, Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, Sam Reinhart, Matthew Tkachuk and David Pastrnak.

Florida would go on to prevail 6-1 and even up the series. Game three will take place on Friday, May 10, at 7:00 pm on TNT.

Game Notes

  • Charlie Coyle’s tally was his first of the playoffs and his second point of this series. He and Zacha now both have three points across the first two games.
  • Paul Maurice’s line changes turned the tide of this game near the end of the first period. It’ll be interesting to see what units he deploys next game.
  • The Bruins had plenty of chances to extend their lead in the first. In addition to the unconverted two-on-one, Brad Marchand missed an open net on the team’s first power play, and Charlie Coyle hit a post.
  • Game three will take place on Friday, May 10, at 7:00 pm on TNT.