May 19th, 2024

Swayman stops 38 shots, Bruins roll past Panthers 5-1 for 1-0 series lead


By Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press on May 6, 2024.

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) deflects a shot during the second period of Game 1 of the second-round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers, Monday, May 6, 2024, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) – Jeremy Swayman stopped 38 shots, Brandon Carlo scored a goal just a few hours after his wife gave birth to their son and the Boston Bruins topped the Florida Panthers 5-1 in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series Monday night.

Morgan Geekie, Mason Lohrei, Justin Brazeau and Jake DeBrusk also had goals for Boston, which improved to 5-0-0 against the Panthers this season. Pavel Zacha had a pair of assists for the Bruins, who scored three times in the final 7:08 of the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit and seize control.

Matthew Tkachuk had the goal for Florida, which has rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win an NHL playoff series only twice in nine previous opportunities – one of those was last year against Boston in Round 1. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 shots for the Panthers, who were playing for the first time in a week.

Game 2 is in Sunrise on Wednesday night.

Swayman has been in net for all five of Boston’s wins so far in these playoffs and was stellar yet again – just as he was against Toronto in a Round 1 series that ended with a Game 7 overtime thriller on Saturday night. He stopped all seven shots he saw on Florida’s three power plays, improving the best stats of any netminder so far in these playoffs.

Through seven playoff appearances, Swayman has made a league-best 210 saves with a most-stingy goals-against average of 1.43.

It was the first one-sided game of the five this season between the clubs who finished 1-2 – Florida first with 110 points, Boston second with 109 points – in the Atlantic Division. Boston won them all in the regular season, three by one goal and the other by two, but Florida was either tied or ahead in those games 78% of the time.

This one was different. Once Boston got the lead, the Bruins – who have now successfully rallied from deficits of 1-0 in four of the five games with Florida this season – went completely airtight defensively.

Swayman gave up the game’s first goal to Tkachuk, the Florida star’s fourth of the postseason, midway through the second after he and Bobrovsky were in a goalie’s duel for the first 31 minutes. He didn’t deal with the deficit for long.

It took Boston only 67 seconds to get the equalizer, with Geekie cleaning up a loose puck in front. And the lead came 3:25 later, when Lohrei got his first playoff goal by going over Bobrovsky’s shoulder from a tough angle.

That set the stage for Carlo to add to a day he’ll never forget.

He wasn’t on the flight with the Bruins to South Florida on Sunday, staying behind because his wife Mayson was about to give birth. She delivered their son Crew on Monday morning, in time for Carlo to hop on a plane for the three-hour trip south. He arrived at the arena after the rest of his teammates, but in time to be in the lineup – and he scored with 21 seconds left in the second, staking his club to a 3-1 edge.

Brazeau sealed it with 12:47 left, getting behind the Florida defense and beating Bobrovsky with a backhander. The Panthers pulled Bobrovsky with 5:30 left, and DeBrusk added an empty-netter about 2 minutes later.

___

AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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