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

Looking to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time in 2022-23, the Boston Bruins were looking to bounce back from a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 26 when they played the Florida Panthers for the final time in the regular-season on Saturday (Jan. 28). It looked like they were on their way to avoiding their first back-to-back losses before disaster struck.

After David Pastrnak gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead with 48 seconds left when he scored his 38th goal of the season, Boston gave up the game-tying goal to Aleksander Barkov with 1.4 seconds remaining. To compound matters, Sam Reinhart one-timed a pass from Barkov past Jeremy Swayman 17 seconds into overtime for a 4-3 Florida win. Here are three takeaways from the second consecutive loss for the Black and Gold in just 48 hours.

Bruins Badly Outplayed in the Third Period

All season long, the Bruins have been a dominant third-period team both at home and on the road. In the last couple of weeks, there have been some cracks in their game in the final 20 minutes and for the second straight game, it cost them.

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Florida held a 13-6 advantage in shots, but it felt like it was a lot more than that. It didn’t matter who had the puck, a defenseman or forward, clearing the puck out of their zone to relieve pressure was a struggle. After surviving it for most of the period thanks to Swayman, it cost them when Barkov collected a puck that Brandon Carlo kicked while being down on the ice in front of the net. The Panthers captain was able to beat Swayman to tie the game. All the Bruins needed in the final 48 seconds was one clear from the defensive zone and they failed to get it.

Bruins’ Power Play Was Ugly…. Again

One of the areas that have been a strong point this season for the Bruins is now becoming a cause for concern. They had four power play chances against a team that ranks 26th and near the bottom of the league on the penalty kill and the Panthers looked like they were the top-ranked unit in the league.

Boston had a four-minute power play in the first period in which the Panthers actually had the better of the chances with a pair of 2-on-1 breaks. The Bruins held a 1-0 second-period lead and had their third chance of the game with an opportunity to double the lead and couldn’t. On their final chance in the second period, coach Jim Montgomery began the second unit for the first 45 seconds, but it didn’t make a difference.

Jim Montgomery Boston Bruins
Jim Montgomery, Boston Bruins head coach (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When the power play is clicking, the puck is moving around crisp, they are getting high-danger chances and scoring. They are struggling to get Pastrnak his opportunities at the elbow for his one-time slap shot, tens are taking away Patrice Bergeron in the bumper position and the zone entries are not clean at all. They had a chance multiple times to build on the lead and couldn’t with the man advantage, something they were doing earlier this season.

Bruins Get Bottom-Six Production

The case can be made that the Bruins’ bottom six were their two best lines in the game. Marc McLaughlin was inserted into the lineup as the center on the fourth line in place of Joona Koppanen between Craig Smith and A.J. Greer. Smith opened the scoring in the first period when he stole a clearing attempt and beat Florida goalie Alex Lyon with a wrist shot from the slot.

In the second period after the Panthers tied the game, the third line of Charlie Coyle, Nick Foligno, and Taylor Hall at the time after Trent Frederic left the game following a first-period injury, was able to capitalize on a big break. Coyle’s pass toward the front of the net was hit out of the air by Florida’s Sam Bennett and into his own goal for a 2-1 Bruins lead. Bennett would make up for the gaffe in the third period when he tied the game at 2-2 when he scored into the Boston net.

Frederic’s injury is going to open up another roster spot and look for Koppanen to return to the lineup against the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday (Jan. 29). McLaughlin, who made his season debut against the Panthers, will stay in the lineup. Montgomery could also decide to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen against the Hurricanes. Regardless, the Black and Gold are going to need bodies to step up before the All-Star break.

It’s amazing that it took 49 games into the season for the Bruins to lose back-to-back games. Despite their torrid start to the season, you knew sooner or later that they would come back to the pack and it’s happening now. There are still two games remaining before their 10-day break and right now, despite beating the Montreal Canadiens, 4-2, on Jan. 24, Boston appears to be a team limping toward the break.

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