(Photo Credit: Joel Auerbach / Getty Images)

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism

Charlie McAvoy was held without a shot on Sergei Bobrovsky throughout the first four games of the Boston Bruins’ second-round matchup with the Florida Panthers. The lack of pucks on net was plaguing the Bruins, forcing them to the brink of elimination in a do-or-die Game Five on the road.

So good things happened when the Bruins peppered the Florida netminder with 28 shots on goal on Tuesday night. Just ask McAvoy–who recorded six shots on goal—how relieving it was to see the red light flash behind Florida’s cage in a pivotal Game Five. McAvoy notched a goal and an assist in Boston’s 2-1 edging of Florida to force a Game Six on Friday.

“Tonight was just good to see them get on net and see them create some opportunities for our team,” McAvoy told reporters after the win. “It’s up and down, you just got to stay even keel.”

The blueliner netted the game-winning goal at 10:25 of the second period on a drop pass from Charlie Coyle on a zone-entry. McAvoy collected the puck, stickhandled, and fired a laser into the top right corner to put the B’s in front. The play was reviewed for goaltender interference but ultimately stood—a sigh of relief amidst Game Four’s controversy.

“I started yelling right away, and great play by him to have patience with that puck and to find me,” McAvoy said. “I was pumped to see it go in.

“I just haven’t seen them be able to get to the net. You never lose confidence. It’s the playoffs, it’s up and down, and it’s emotional. Every day is a new day, and that’s all we’re given. I’ve been trying to just keep the same mindset, and I’m grateful for these opportunities and the guys that I get to go to war with.”

McAvoy also asserted himself in the offensive zone on Morgan Geekie’s first-period tally to open the scoring for the visitors. He collected a puck off the side wall, throwing it below the goal line to Jake DeBrusk, who found a streaking Geekie in the slot for the easy score.

“It’s nice to be rewarded for everything he does,” Coyle said. “Charlie does it all. He does it all, even when he’s not scoring. I know he wants to score and contribute, which he’s more than capable of, we’ve seen it. But when he’s not, he just leads and leads.”

It’s the kind of game Boston desperately needed from their alternate captain. McAvoy had been held silent for the entirety of the series until Game Five, which has hurt a Bruins team yearning for offensive chances. While McAvoy possesses a potent ability to make plays happen with his feet, his simplicity is what makes the difference when the puck is on his tape. A shoot-first, aggressive mentality is the brand of hockey that suits Boston’s veteran defenseman on the big stage.

“He’s extremely competitive,” said Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery. “He’s kind of quiet, like he doesn’t say much. But you could see him talking a lot tonight on the bench. And his play was instrumental in our victory.”