4 Takeaways From Bruins’ 4-3 Game 5 Overtime Loss to Panthers

One night after the Boston Celtics failed to put away the Atlanta Hawks in a close-out Game 5 at the TD Garden, the Boston Bruins got their chance against the Florida Panthers in their best-of-seven series first-round matchup. Like the Celtics, the Bruins failed to close out the series with a loss that could come back to haunt them.

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

Sloppy play in their defensive end led to two Panthers goals, including the game-winner from Matthew Tkachuk in overtime when Linus Ullmark missed played the puck behind the net and did not have communication with his defenseman, leading to a 4-3 Florida win to stave off elimination and force a Game 6 Friday night in Sunrise. Here are four takeaways from a loss that feels like a missed opportunity for Boston to end the series.

Bruins’ New-Look Lines Fail

I’m not sure what Jim Montgomery was doing with his lines to begin Game 5, but it didn’t work. Patrice Bergeron was back in the lineup after missing the first four games with an injury, but for some reason, he moved Brad Marchand down to the second line, and moved Tyler Bertuzzi up to the first line with Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Safe to say, it didn’t work.

Through the first half of the period, the Bruins were outshot 7-2, and looked flat and the Panthers came out and played like a team facing elimination. Boston had an early power play, which did not generate a shot and Florida took advantage of that momentum and opened the scoring off a Bertuzzi defensive zone turnover, which led to Anthony Duclair knocking a pass out of the air and into the net. Montgomery switched his lines around after the goal to a more normal look, but tinkering with lines at this point in the series is something that looked like it affected the forwards in the first period.

Bruins Dominate Second Period, But Give Up Late Goal

The Bruins dominated the Panthers from just about start to finish in the second period. They tied the game at 1-1 on Marchand’s power-play goal for the second straight game. The Black and Gold outshot the visitors 18-8 in the period and had Florida back on their heels.

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After failing to capitalize on their pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky, the Bruins failed to clear a puck out of their own end with just over a minute in the period and Sam Bennett received a pass from Carter Verhaeghe and beat Linus Ullmark with a wrist shot under the crossbar for a 2-1 lead. While the Panthers were getting pucks to the net, the Bruins spent the period looking to make the extra pass, getting shots blocked and not getting pucks toward the net enough. They are going to have to get more pucks toward the net in Game 6.

Taylor Hall Comes Up Big In the Third Period Again

Trailing 3-2 in the third period with just over 10 minutes left in the game, Taylor Hall once again found the back of the net for the fourth consecutive game. He emerged from a scramble in front of the Panthers’ net with the puck and turned and beat Bobrovsky with a wrist shot from the top of the slot to tie the game. It was his third goal in the third period in the last two games.

Taylor Hall Boston Bruins
Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After his goal, Hall became one of the best players in the final 10 minutes. He used his speed to create chances for not only himself but his teammates. He collected the puck at center ice, skated into the Florida zone along the left side, and made a cross-ice pass to Charlie Coyle whose wrist shot went just over the net. Hall has come up big in the last three games and he will need to continue to play with confidence because he can be a big-time difference-maker for the Black and Gold.

Bruins Self-Inflected Wounds Costly

The biggest reason the Bruins are going to a Game 6 is because of self-inflected wounds throughout the game. In the first period, Bertuzzi’s turnover led to Duclair’s goal, and a failure to clear the puck in the second led to Bennett’s goal. In the third period, right after Bergeron tied the game on the power play, Jakub Lauko took a penalty off the following faceoff, which led to a Sam Reinhart power play goal. The icing on the cake was Ullmark’s mistake in overtime that led to Tkachuk’s goal. If the Bruins have any intentions of advancing past the Panthers into the second round, they need to clean up their defensive zone mistakes and turnovers.

Quick Bruins’ Takeaways

  • The Bruins went 2-for-5 on the power play with Marchand’s goal in the second period and Bergeron’s goal in the third being the only times they scored on the man advantage. With 3:35 remaining in regulation, they got their fifth power play of the game when the Panthers were called for too many men on the ice, but Florida killed the penalty. The Bruins are going to need to continue to get production from their power play as the series moves on.
  • Bobrovsky made 44 saves, but his best of the night happened at the end of regulation. With just under eight seconds remaining, the Bruins had a defensive zone faceoff after an icing. Marchand poked the puck to center ice, and broke in alone, but Bobrovsky made the save to force overtime. That saved the Panthers’ season.
  • Charlie McAvoy logged 30:57 in time on ice in the game with seven shots landed on the net, four hits, and three blocked shots. It is going to be a quick turnaround to Game 6 in South Florida Friday night, but expect the Bruins’ top defenseman to log as much time as Montgomery needs him to.

The last thing the Bruins wanted to do was give the Panthers life and extend the series, which is what happened. They say that the closeout game is the hardest one to try and win and Boston is going to find that out and find it out the hard way. The last thing the Bruins want to do is play a Game 7, but if they end up doing that, they will have no one to blame but themselves for the way they have given the Panthers a lot of life heading home.

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