May 21st, 2024

Panthers rally to beat Bruins 3-2, grab 3-1 lead in East semifinal series


By Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press on May 12, 2024.

Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett (9) scores against Boston Bruins' Jeremy Swayman (1) as Bruins' Charlie Coyle (13) defends during the third period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON (AP) – Aleksander Barkov slipped through three Bruins defenders to score the go-ahead goal on Sunday night, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 16 shots to give the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over Boston and a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

One year after Florida knocked out the record-setting Bruins in the first round on its way to the Stanley Cup final, the Panthers won their third straight to send Boston to the brink of elimination.

Sam Bennett and Anton Lundell also scored for the Panthers, who scored three times in a row to rally from a two-goal deficit. Florida can advance to the Eastern Conference final with a victory in Game 5 at home on Tuesday.

Playing without captain and leading scorer in the post-season Brad Marchand, Boston jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals from David Pastrnak and Brandon Carlo. Jeremy Swayman made 39 saves for the Bruins.

One game after his hit – or, as the Bruins believe, his sucker punch – knocked Marchand out of Game 4, Bennett scored a disputed goal to tie the game 2-2 about four minutes into the third period. After Swayman made a save on Lundell, Bennett gave Boston’s Charlie Coyle a shove, sending him into the goaltender, and then flipped the puck into the net.

The Bruins challenged, claiming goaltender interference, but the replay confirmed the goal. The NHL is alone among the major North American sports in refusing to make referees available to reporters to explain controversial calls.

Boston, which lost three of its last four games in the regular season to fall one point below Florida in the Atlantic Division, now must win three straight – with two on the road – to remain alive in the playoffs.

Pastrnak had 47 goals this season, but just one on the power play in the final 34 games of the regular season and the first 10 of the playoffs. Boston hadn’t scored at all on the man-advantage in its first 11 tries in the Florida series. But Pastrnak slapped a 92 miles per hour missile past Bobrovsky just off the faceoff after Aaron Ekblad was sent off for interference midway through the first period.

Carlo, who scored in Game 1 just a few hours after his wife gave birth to their son, made it 2-0 with five minutes left in the first on a seemingly harmless wrist shot from the blue lin.

But the Panthers kept putting shots on net, outshooting Boston 15-5 in the first period, and it paid off early in the second when Lundell made it a one-goal game five minutes into the second.

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

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