Panthers cool off Bruins 6-3, return to Florida tied 1-1
Brandon Montour scored twice and the Florida Panthers had four third-period goals to beat the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins 6-3 on Wednesday night and send Boston to its first loss in 10 games.
The Panthers - the NHL's top regular-season team last season - tied the best-of-seven series and head home for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday. There will be a Game 5 back in Boston on Wednesday.
Montour scored 22 seconds into the third period to break a 2-2 tie, Carter Verhaeghe added an insurance goal, then Montour scored again for Florida and Eetu Luostarinen added an empty netter with 2:25 to play to make it 6-2.
Alex Lyon stopped 34 shots, and Sam Bennett and Eric Staal also scored for the Panthers, who seemed overmatched by the NHL-best Bruins in a 3-1 series-opening loss.
Brad Marchand scored a short-handed goal, and Tyler Bertuzzi and Taylor Hall also scored for the Bruins, who won their last eight – and 15 of their last 16 - regular-season games while setting NHL records with 65 wins and 135 points. Linus Ullmark made 24 saves.
Bennett, who missed the opener with an undisclosed injury, took advantage of a turnover by Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo in the Boston zone. Matthew Tkachuk kept it in, and slid it ahead to Bennett, who reached out to corral it and then extended to poke it between Ullmark’s pads.
But the Panthers had an even worse turnover with a man advantage, when Anthony Duclair gave it right to Marchand for the short-handed goal that made it 1-1. Two minutes later, the Panthers were back in the lead when Staal beat Ullmark, but Boston made it 2-2 just as a power play was expiring on Dmitry Orlov’s shot that went in off Bertuzzi’s skate.
Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron missed his second straight playoff game. After sitting out Game 1 with what was called an illness, the team conceded that he had an unspecified upper body injury.
The French Canadian Bergeron left after the first period of their final regular-season game - in Montreal. The game meant nothing to Boston except a chance to extend its record for the most wins and points in NHL history.
Former Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who finished the Boston Marathon on Monday in 3 hours, 38 minutes, 23 seconds, was a fan banner captain during the pregame ceremony.
The 6-foot-9 defenseman was the last Bruins captain to skate around the ice with the Stanley Cup.
The series shifts to Florida for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday.