Florida toppled the NHL’s top squad thanks to a stellar 37-save effort from goaltender Spencer Knight and a scorching three for seven performance on the power play.
Gustav Forsling drew an early tripping call on Charlie Coyle and the Cats took advantage at 1:49 when Aleksander Barkov crossed to Sam Reinhart, who crossed back to Matthew Tkachuk down low. With Jeremy Swayman crouched down to cover for a shot, Tkachuk slipped the puck back over to Reinhart and he found the empty net.
After carrying the play the rest of the period, the Bruins finally broke through on Knight, who stopped 18 shots in the frame, at 17:14 with Ryan Lomberg and Anton Lundell sitting in the sin bin. Barkov won a defensive zone faceoff and Forsling knocked back into the corner. Louie Debrusk won the puck and sent it out to Charlie McAvoy and he hammered it home from the high slot.
Lundell would make up for his earlier transgresson by giving the Panthers the lead back at 4:41 of the second, solving Swayman blocker side from the left circle off a cross-ice feed from Nick Cousins. Reinhart got the second assist for taking the puck away from Jakub Zboril below the goal line and feeding it out to Cousins.
Florida’s power play came through a second time at 15:31 when Aaron Ekblad teed up Brandon Montour and he slung the puck towards the net and Barkov reached out to tip it over Swayman’s glove, off the post and in with Tkachuk causing trouble in front.
The Cats third power-play goal came with 14 seconds left in the period and Hampus LIndholm off for cross-checking Radko Gudas. This time it would be Tkachuk who displayed the silky mitts. After playing catch with Ekblad on the left side, Barkov flipped a saucer pass into Tkachuk, who directed it up between a gap between Swayman’s arm and torso.
The Bruins would get their second 5-on-3 goal of the game to cut the deficit down to two 6:20 into the third. David Pastrnak took a pass from David Krecji and then snapped it down low to Brad Marchand. Marchand centered it back to Pastrnak, who went al dente with a one-timer to beat Knight.
Florida did a good job of clamping down after that. Knight made five more saves and Ekblad iced it with an uassisted empty-netter with 2:10 left on the clock. Ekblad make a good stop at the Panthers blue line and then sent the puck the rest of the way down for his 100th career goal. Game over, man! Game over!
Clad in their dazzling new Reverse Retro sweaters for the second time, the Panthers reversed it’s losing streak by reversing the way the start of their games usually go. Most times it’s the Cats who vastly outshoots the opposition and fail to finish enough to take control of the game. This time, they got outshot 19-9 by the Bruins, but the early Reinhart goal and a monster performance from Knight allowed them to get to the dressing room tied. The second period was all Florida as they flipped the script on the Atlantic Division leaders and poured in three goals to build an insurmountable lead. Multi-point nights from First Star Barkov (1G/2A), Third Star Ekblad (1G/2A), Tkachuk (1G/1A), and Reinhart (1G/1A) in an important game against a high-quality foe were a sight for sore eyes.
Tea & Honey
- Aaron Ekblad became the first defenseman and 12th skater in Panthers history to score 100 goals. The milestone marker came in his 563rd career game. Ekblad played a team-high 24:03 and finished with two shots, two blocks and a hit.
- Speaking of milestones, Aleksander Barkov scored his 66th power-play goal, tying him with Scott “Rat Trick”Mellanby for the most in Panthers history.
- Keeping with milestones, Boston forward Craig Smith played in his 800th NHL game. Smith had two shots and two hits.
- After failing to score in his first 12 games, Samson Reinhart has notched six goals in his past eight games, the most for any Panther over that span.
- Anton Lundell’s goal was just his second of the season and ended a 12-game drought. Lundell last lit the lamp on October 23 against the New York Islanders.
- Jeremy Swayman, making just his fifth start, had his three-game winning streak snapped. Swayman finished the tilt with 26 saves.
- Matthew Tkachuk’s two-point performance put him back in the NHL’s top ten (9th) in scoring. Tkachuk leads the Panthers with 18 assists and 27 points.
- For more on Florida evening the season series with the Bruins, have a tasty heaping of Stanley Cup of Chowder.