3 Takeaways From Bruins’ 6-3 Loss to the Panthers in Game 2

For the second straight game in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins played without captain Patrice Bergeron. Still, unlike before Game 1 on April 17 when he was a game-time decision against the Florida Panthers in their first-round series, coach Jim Montgomery made the announcement following their morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena Wednesday morning (April 19). After surviving some tough stretches in Game 1, the Bruins were able to gut out a 3-1 victory, but they were not as lucky in Game 2 at the TD Garden.

2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 Boston Bruins Florida Panthers
Boston Bruins Florida Panthers (The Hockey Writers)

Florida dominated the third period by scoring four goals to break a 2-2 tie and even the series at 1-1 with an impressive 6-3 victory. Here are three takeaways from just the Bruins’ fifth loss of the season in regulation on home ice this season.

Bruins Defensive Turnovers Finally Cost Them

In Game 1, the Bruins were sloppy in their defensive zone and a Dmitry Orlov turnover led to Florida’s only goal, a Matthew Tkachuk tally in the second period. In the first period in Game 2, they were once again living on the edge, but were bailed out by Linus Ullmark when he stopped Eetu Luostarinen alone in front, but he couldn’t bail out his teammates in the second period.

Linus Ullmark Boston Bruins
Linus Ullmark, Boston Bruins (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

A turnover at the defensive blueline allowed Sam Bennett, playing in his first game since March 20, to score on a shot from the slot for a 1-0 Panthers lead. Defensive zone turnovers led to the first two goals of the series for Florida, then to compound matters, they failed to backcheck on a second-period goal from Erik Stall who got into the slot and beat Ullmark with a perfectly placed wrist shot. In the third period and with the Bruins down 3-2, Charlie McAvoy turned the puck over in the defensive zone which led to a Carter Verhaeghe goal that ultimately sealed the win.

Issues that really have not hurt the Bruins this year have been a bugaboo in the first two games. They have no one to blame for their Game 2 loss but themselves, giving the puck away 15 times. Too many self-inflected mistakes can be a team’s undoing in the playoffs and it was the Bruins undoing in Game 2.

Bruins Dominated in the Third Period

The biggest strength in the regular season this season for the Bruins was their third-period dominance. They finished with a plus/minus of plus-54 in goal differential, while the Panthers were a minus-6. Throw those numbers out the window in the playoffs.

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The game was tied 2-2 entering the final period and it began 4-on-4 following penalties to Tyler Bertuzzi and Tkachuk at the end of the second. With the open ice, Florida wasted little time in seizing control of the final 20 minutes. Brandon Montour broke the tie just 22 seconds into the period when his shot from the point found its way past Ullmark. After Verhaeghe gave the visitors a two-goal lead, Montour scored his second of the period off another wrist shot from the slot through a screen. Florida turned the tables on the Bruins in the third period and now head home with what they wanted, a split in the first two games in Boston.

Bruins Struggle at the Faceoff Dot

There were many areas of the game where the Bruins missed Bergeron, but no area bigger than where they missed their captain was at the faceoff dot. Bennett, who registered eight shots on the net in the game, returned to the lineup and it allowed Florida to move their centers into their normal positions in the lineup.

Tomas Nosek led the Bruins at the dot going 9-for-13 and Charlie Coyle went 11-for-20, but Pavel Zacha was 6-for-19 and David Krejci was just 8-for-19. On the flip side, Aleksander Barkov was 11-for-16, Anton Lundell was 9-for-15, Sam Reinhart was 7-for-14 and Bennett won just five of his 14 draws, but he made a bigger impact with his second-period goal.

Sam Bennett Florida Panthers
Sam Bennett, Florida Panthers (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Moving forward, it would not be surprising to see Bergeron back in the lineup for Game 3 in Florida on Friday night (April 21) and it would be uplifting in many ways for the Bruins. The first would be trying to evening things out more at the faceoff dot.

Quick Bruins’ Takeaways

  • The Bruins’ power play went scoreless in four opportunities and aside from the third-period power play, it was not another good night for the man advantage. Zone entries have been an issue again and setting up David Pastrnak for his one-timer has been slow and giving Alex Lyon an opportunity to get over to make the save.
  • Ullmark did his best to keep his team in the game with 24 saves, but with some of the high-danger chances that Florida had, it’s hard to put any blame on him.
  • Lyon bounced back for the Panthers between the pipes, making 34 saves. He showed no hangover from Brad Marchand’s weak goal in Game 1. The Panthers’ defense did a nice job of allowing him to see a lot of the shots. He made coach Paul Maurice look good by starting him 48 hours after Game 1.
  • Speaking of Marchand, for the first time in 12 seasons, he failed to register a shorthanded goal. In the second game of the playoffs, he got one to tie the game at 1-1, but it ended up being for not.

As the Bruins head to South Florida for Games 3 and 4, they are going to have to find a way to get at least one win in an arena where they lost both regular-season meetings. Over the next two days, there are a lot of areas they need to clean up and if they don’t, then they could be facing a deficit that they don’t want to be in against a team that has nothing to lose in the first round.

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