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Lackluster Panthers fall short in frustrating 2-1 loss to Bruins

May 14, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) makes a save against Florida Panthers center Sam Reinhart (13) during the third period in game five of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers will have to head back to Boston after dropping a 2-1 decision to the desperate Bruins in Game 5 at Amerant Bank Arena.

With Boston on life support, starting fast and/or scoring first would’ve been good ideas last night, but the Panthers did neither of those things, falling behind at the 4:49 mark and getting badly outplayed throughout the first period, finishing the frame with a meager four shots on goal.

Some poor defending allowed the Bruins to open the scoring. After Charlie McAvoy threw the puck down low, Jake DeBrusk took possession and slipped Oliver Ekman-Larsson as he rounded the net before centering to Morgan Geekie. Carter Verhaeghe stood and watched as Geekie went to the backhand to pull Sergei Bobrovsky to ice and then deposit the puck into the back of the net.

An early second period “pep talk” from Paul Maurice finally shook the Cats out of the doldrums and Sam Reinhart claimed a bouncing puck in front after Aaron Ekblad’s try from the point failed to get through and pinged a shot of the post and in at 6:23 to even the score.

Following the goal, Jeremy Swayman came up with a big stop on Dmitry Kulikov to prevent the Panthers from forging ahead, while Bobrovsky sealed the five-hole on Trent Frederic to keep it tied.

On the eventual game-winner, Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett went down in a heap with Mason Lohrei below the Boston goal line, allowing the Bruins to break the each other way with lots of open ice to work with. Charlie Coyle headmanned to Frederic, who dropped back to Coyle after gaining the zone. Coyle handed off to McAvoy, who had joined the play off the bench, and he beat Bobrovsky’s glove with a wrister at 10:25.

Unfortunately for Bobrovksy, not only was he jostled by Danton Heinen, Ekman-Larsson knocked his goalie stick out of his hands, hampering his ability to make a save on McAvoy. The Panthers challenged, but to no avail. Good execution by the Bruins on the rush, a comedy of errors from the Panthers…

Florida had a number of chances to tie, including Aleksander Barkov ringing one off the post not long after McAvoy’s marker, but too many quality looks ended up missing the net.

For whatever reason, the Panthers came out flat and while they did get better as the game went on, they remained out of synch, especially when it came to passing and getting clean handles on pucks, for most of the night, wasting the best performance of the series from Bobrovsky, who finished with 26 saves. A disappointing performance from the power play, and especially the second line and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who were all on the ice for both Boston goals, certainly didn’t help matters.

Despite pulling off the comeback win in Game 4, the Cats looked a little bit off at times in that one, too. Perhaps it’s time to insert some different players into the lineup to shake things up a bit. Game 6 here we come.

Tea & Honey

  • Charlie McAvoy delivered a big game to earn First Star honors. In addition to his goal and assist, McAvoy registered a team-high six shots on goal, blocked four shots and was credited with three hits.
  • Sam Reinhart did all he could to get his team the win or at least to overtime. Reinhart scored Florida’s only goal and put seven other shots on Jeremy Swayman, but he couldn’t get a second puck to go, despite 13 attempts. Some of his misses loom large.
  • Speaking of Swayman, he ended stopping 28 shots including a quality save on Reinhart with eight seconds left on the clock. Looked like a short-side one-timer might’ve done the trick, but Reinhart hesitated before trying far-side which Swayman denied.
  • Brandon Montour logged a team-high 25:12 of ice time, but wasn’t able to provide the offensive jolt he did in Games 2 and 3. One of his two shots was a really nice between-the-legs attempt with time running out.
  • Charlie Coyle set up the winning goal and dished out a game-high eight hits. Justin Brazeau was right behind him with seven while Sam Bennett led the Cats with five.