Bruins Top Panthers 6-2, Take 3-1 Lead in 1st-round Series
Taylor Hall and Jake DeBrusk each scored twice, Linus Ullmark stopped 41 shots and the Boston Bruins beat the Florida Panthers 6-2 in an Eastern Conference first-round playoff game Sunday.
Brad Marchand and Tyler Bertuzzi also had goals for the Bruins, who took a 3-1 lead in the series by getting a second consecutive win on Florida ice. Hall added two assists, and both of his goals came in the final 3:36 — the second one an empty-netter.
Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett had goals for Florida, while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots for the Panthers, who’ll try to fend off elimination when they visit Boston for Game 5 on Wednesday.
Tempers flared at the end, with all 11 players on the ice — Bobrovsky had been pulled — getting involved in a scrum with 3:11 remaining, highlighted by Ullmark wanting to fight Tkachuk and referees not letting that happen.
Ullmark wound up getting a misconduct penalty, ending his day a bit early.
Hall put it away with 3:36 left, getting behind Florida's defense and beating Bobrovsky easily for a 5-2 edge that sent Panthers fans to the exits — possibly for the last time this season.
All Boston needs to do now is avoid a three-game losing streak in order to reach the second round for the fifth time in the past six seasons.
The Bruins dropped three in a row only once all season, on their way to having the best regular-season mark in NHL history — 65-12-5. Sunday’s win was Boston’s 68th of the season; only 10 teams, including playoffs, have ever won more in a single season.
Both of DeBrusk’s goals put Boston on top by two — the first a power-play score 1:52 into the second for a 2-0 lead, the other when he merely had to swipe a puck that popped out of Bobrovsky’s glove into the net for a 4-2 edge with 11:55 remaining.
Boston improved to 39-1-1 this season when leading after the first period, 50-1-2 when leading after two periods, and 52-1-1 in games where it led by two or more goals at any time.
It was 1-0 Boston after the first 20 minutes. And about three seconds after that period ended, the Bruins found themselves on the brink of a bigger advantage.
Boston’s Garnet Hathaway was part of a behind-the-net scrum as time expired, and Tkachuk decided to join in as well — getting caught cross-checking Hathaway in the process. That meant Boston would start the second period on the power play.
And DeBrusk cashed in, tipping the puck past Bobrovsky with 8 seconds left in the power play.
Marchand also got a power-play goal to open the scoring. Bobrovsky couldn’t cover the puck as he sat in the goal mouth and the Boston forward swept it under him and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Florida was playing uphill the rest of the way. Tkachuk scored in the second to make it 2-1, Bennett banged home a rebound in the third on the power play to make it 3-2, but the Panthers never pulled even.
The Panthers had two notable lineup changes — Bobrovsky was in, Aaron Ekblad was out.
Alex Lyon’s run of 11 consecutive games as Florida’s starting goalie ended, with Bobrovsky getting the call there. Ekblad was listed as a game-time decision after leaving Game 3 early with an undisclosed injury; he wound up sitting out and Casey Fitzgerald played instead.
AROUND THE RINK
The Bruins went with their same lineup as Game 3, meaning Patrice Bergeron (expected to play Game 5) and David Krejci (not expected to play Game 5) remained out Sunday. … Ullmark stopped a shot from Florida’s Sam Bennett in the first period with the top of his helmet. ... The Panthers had one other lineup change from Game 3 — Anthony Duclair was out, Zac Dalpe was in.
Boston is now four wins away from matching the record for most in a season, including playoffs. The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers, 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and last season’s Colorado Avalanche all won 72 games.
Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.