Florida Panthers Live to See Another Day, Defeating the Bruins 3-2

SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 5: Aleksander Barkov
SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 5: Aleksander Barkov /

Coming off a thriller win against the Predators, the Florida Panthers were heading into a must-win match, squaring off against the mighty Boston Bruins.

Goaltender Roberto Luongo would start in his 1,000th career NHL game, while opposing netminder Tuuka Rask would guard the pipes for his respective side. For the Cats, two points were on the line to inch their way closer into the last wildcard spot, and for the Bruins, a win would separate them from Lightning, ultimately guarding the #1 spot in the Atlantic Division. Who would prevail in this contest?

The Panthers came storming out the gates, pouring pressure in the Bruins’ zone early on. Boston was finding it difficult to clear the zone, hemmed in their own end for quite some time. Florida’s pressure was wearing the Bruins down, leading to multiple scoring opportunities. Unfortunately however, Tuuka remained sharp, denying every puck that came his way.

It was only a matter of time until the Panthers cashed in, with their opening goal coming around the eight minute mark. Evgeni Dadonov sent Aleksander Barkov a cross-crease pass right in front of goal, where Barkov simply tapped home his 100th career NHL goal:

Less than two minutes later, Frank Vatrano added to the Panthers’ lead. After winning the puck battle against Zdeno Chara, Vatrano flipped the puck over McAvoy’s stick and slotted the Panthers’ 2nd goal past Tuuka Rask:

Florida’s resilient pressure continued afterwards, but Tuuka’s impressive play kept the Panthers’ lead locked at two. All the Bruins needed was a break of some sorts, in order to get back into the hockey game.

The B’s didn’t get a break, but what they did get was a well-deserved scoring opportunity, which they cashed in on. With five and a half left in the first, Ryan Donato buried a rebound from Krug’s initial point-shot, slashing the Panthers’ lead in half:

Shortly after Donato’s goal, Vincent Trocheck walked right into the slot and fired a shot off the goal post. A few inches over from the post and the Panthers would’ve regained their two-goal lead.

The Panthers took their 2-1 lead into the dressing room after a period of play. The opening twenty minutes was all Florida in play, noted by the shot differential of 11-6 in favor for the Cats.

Florida’s first period pressure transferred over to begin the second, but didn’t last very long. Michael Matheson’s turnover gifted the Bruins their second goal of the night, leveling the game at two goals apiece. Matheson turned the puck over to David Krejci, who then fed an open Danton Heinen in the slot. All alone in front, Danton sniped a shot over Luongo’s blocker, recording his 15th goal of the season:

The Panthers’ second line (Huberdeau, Trocheck, and McGinn) responded well after Heinen’s goal. Trocheck and Huberdeau’s give-and-go plays were causing the Bruins trouble, pinning them in their own zone for a good two minutes. With Rask’s stellar play, the Panthers just couldn’t find a goal, no matter how much pressure they were putting on the Bruins’ defense.

Moments later, the Cats were handed their first man advantage of the night, courtesy of Adam McQuaid’s interference penalty on Colton Sceviour. Florida created some good looks on the power play, but unfortunately they couldn’t cash in.

The second period ended with a score of 2-2 for both sides. The Panthers continued their excellent play and were likely to be rewarded with the game’s next goal. Although, would all of that fall into place for the desperate Cats?

Tied at two to begin the third, the Panthers continued to chop away as the period progressed. Finding out that New Jersey clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs; sparked that extra fire underneath every player on the bench.

Aleksander Barkov led the team’s spark by drawing a penalty in the opening four minutes of the final frame. Charlie McAvoy was booked with a hooking penalty, sending the Panthers to their second man advantage of the game.

The Cats managed to set up their power play perfectly in the Bruins’ territory, but just weren’t rewarded with the bounces in front of goal. The score remained tied at two for the time being, up until the six and a half-minute mark were the game suddenly changed for the Cats.

With less than seven to go, Jared McCann put the Panthers up with a crucial goal. McCann redirected Matheson’s point-shot, giving the Florida Panthers a much-needed 3-2 lead:

Despite losing Barkov to injury moments before McCann’s goal, the Panthers not only found a way to regain their one-goal lead, but also found a way to hold on to it too. The Florida Panthers would live to see another day with a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. With the Flyers defeating the Hurricanes in regulation (4-3), the Cats knew that two points at this stage was a must.

Overall, the Panthers battled hard, showing great determination throughout the course of the game. Your Cats are back in action on Saturday, April 7th @7:00pm against the Buffalo Sabres!